Athlone Town women to make history with first league game
This Saturday evening will be an historic one for Athlone Town as their senior women’s team play their first ever competitive game. Athlone will take on Wexford Youths in the 2020 Women’s National League at the Athlone Town Stadium (kick-off 7pm).
This season will see Athlone Town, managed by Athlone native and former player Tommy Hewitt (pictured above), compete against the top women’s teams in the country, in what is seen as a major boost to the development of the women's game in the Midlands.
Saturday's game against Wexford looks like a tough opening assignment for Athlone. Wexford won the FAI Women's Cup last season and they defeated Bohemians 4-1 in their opening league game last weekend, with Ellen Molloy scoring two goals.
A spokesperson for Athlone Town AFC said the club had a vision to provide a pathway to the top level of the senior women's game for female players from Athlone and surrounding areas.
"Seeing a senior women’s team take to the pitch on Saturday evening is the result of countless hours of hard work by the Athlone Town committee over the past number of years, spearheaded by the Director of Coaching Michael O’Connor," said the spokesperson.
"To be able to provide these players with a platform to showcase their talents without having to travel to join the top teams outside the region has given the club a real sense of pride and even though Saturday evening will see the club make their senior debut, the club will not be resting on this achievement and are already planning on improvements that will take the club to the next level in the coming years.
"The player pathway that was introduced by the club several years ago will now see a number of academy graduates make their senior debut in the game against Wexford Youths on Saturday evening. Players such as local girls Kayleigh Shine and Katelyn Keogh have been playing within the academy since the beginning and are now involved with the senior women’s team."
Both Kayleigh and Katelyn have received international recognition by being selected for the Ireland U-19 squad in recent years, along with their Athlone team-mate Kayla Brady from Cavan.
"This season the club will have both a senior women’s team and an under-17 women’s team playing within the top level competitions of the sport in the country. To have the top competitions of the female game in the region will give every young player something to aspire to," added the club spokesperson.
Athlone Town's second game in the WNL will be away to Galway next Wednesday, August 19 (Eamonn Deacy Park, 7.45pm).
*See this week's Westmeath Independent for an interview with Athlone Town captain Paula Doran.