Season Preview 2024: Athlone Town

Head Coach: Ciaran Kilduff

Stadium: Athlone Town Stadium


In: Kerryanne Brown (Sion Swifts), Jenaya Robertson (Shelbourne), Casey Howe (Sligo Rovers).

Out: Muireann Devaney (Sligo Rovers), Kelsey Munroe (Sligo Rovers).

Re-signed: Katie Keane, Ciara Glackin, Kayleigh Shine, Jesi Rossman, Mary Philips, Shauna Brennan, Kellie Brennan, Fiona Owens, Madison Gibson, Laurie Ryan, Roisin Molloy, Kate Slevin, Gillian Keenan, Isabel Ryan, Chloe Singleton, Antea Guvo, Aoife Murphy O’Connor. Key Player: Madison Gibson

Operating off the left in a 5-player midfield, Gibson personifies the winning mentality that lies behind every great footballer.

She is the kind of player who simply doesn’t accept failure. Skilful on the ball, always aggressive and a natural leader on the field. Gibson has become the beating heart of an Athlone team that, having won a trophy in 2023, now knows what it feels like to win something.

Possibly the most complete player in the league, Gibson’s presence gives Athlone the self-belief they need to turn promise into product. One to watch: Isabel Ryan

Ryan made her senior debut last season as an 89th minute substitute against Sligo Rovers on 19th of August, but she really announced herself three weeks later when she started against Bohemians. She scored the opening goal in a 5-0 win and put in all round performance that was peppered with pace and skill.

She made just 4 league appearances last year - two starts and two appearances from the bench - as well as making substitute appearances in three of Athlone’s FAI Cup games, including the final which earned her a Cup winner’s medal after the Town’s win over Shelbourne in a penalty shootout.

With a wonderful first touch and pace to burn, Isabel has all the natural ability needed to make a big impact. If she can negotiate the often rocky road between underage football and the senior league, then she could become a special talent.

What to expect in 2024:

Athlone are on an upward trajectory with new manager, Ciaran Kilduff, having imposed a sense of order on a squad that looked to have lost their way.

Having impressed everyone with a fantastic season in 2022 under manager, Tommy Hewitt, Athlone started 2023 in something of a funk, losing half of their opening 12 league matches. With a number of key personnel having departed in the close season, Hewitt appeared uncertain in choosing a settled starting XI.

A 4-1 defeat to Shelbourne in the All-Island Avenir Cup marked the end of Hewitt’s tenure, with Ciaran Kilduff coming in to take over the reins. And over the latter half of the season he brought certainty beak into the camp.

He adjusted the team formation to a settled 4-2-3-1 allowing club captain Laurie Ryan to rediscover her place in the team as part of a defensive midfield two alongside Lauren Karabin. He also redefined striker Kellie Brennan as a powerful full back, and ended any uncertainty around Chloe Singleton’s best position by assigning her the crucial central attacking midfield role.

All of this showed KiIlduff’s ability to marshal a team of many talents, as well as bringing the joy back into Athlone’s play.

The team have a number of challenges heading into 2024, one of which is that the league’s top-scorer, Dana Scheriff, has not re-signed at the time of writing. Losing Scheriff (and the 15 league and cup goals she contributed in 2023) is not ideal, but Kilduff has added Casey Howe from Sligo Rovers and Kerryanne Brown from Sion Swifts as potential replacements.

Lauren Karabin is another who has not been announced on the 2024 roster, so expect Kate Slevin to continue her development in a central midfield role. While re-signing centre back Jesi Rossman and attacking midfielder Madison Gibson are other major pluses ahead of a season that promises much for the midlands side.

First Game: Athlone Town v Galway United  -  Sat 9 March (7.30 pm)