Athlone Town women’s team aim to build on memorable success of their 2023 season

Prominent Athlone Town striker, Madison Gibson, who was named in the PFA Ireland Women’s Premier Division Team of the Year, has re-signed for the club and will be seeking to build upon her goalscoring prowess in the 2024 season.  Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Prominent Athlone Town striker, Madison Gibson, who was named in the PFA Ireland Women’s Premier Division Team of the Year, has re-signed for the club and will be seeking to build upon her goalscoring prowess in the 2024 season. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The year 2023 was memorable for the Athlone Town women’s team as it started and ended with the collection of silverware.

The campaign commenced with the winning of a first trophy as the President's Cup was lifted. Having finished second in the league to double winners Shelbourne, the Town were the opponents to the Reds in the season’s opener. A dramatic encounter was settled by penalty kicks as Athlone held their nerve in the shootout.

There was similar drama to end the campaign as once more penalties were needed to decide the destiny of the FAI Cup. Shels were again out of luck in the lottery as Athlone lifted their first FAI Cup in nearly one hundred years. In between both cup successes, much occured both on and off the pitch. An indifferent league campaign saw Athlone linger for much of it in a mid-table position, local man, Tommy Hewitt, stepping down as manager with Ciaran Kilduff coming in to take charge. It proved to be an immediate success as a fine unbeaten run saw the Town eventually reach the cup final.

Although subject to interest from Shelbourne following Noel King's departure, Kilduff has opted to remain in the Midlands. The priority for 2024 is to mount a serious challenge for League honours. Holders Peamount will be anxious to retain their title while Shamrock Rovers will be much more aware of what is required after a satisfactory debut season. Shelbourne and Wexford will remain competitive while Galway United could be dark horses after a decent 2023 campaign.

The President's Cup will again be the curtain raiser with Athlone set to host Peamount in the decider. The Town beat the 'Peas' on their way to the cup final and will fancy their chances of replicating that result. Athlone are also at home when the Premier Division gets underway on Saturday, March 3, Galway the opposition in a tough test of both teams’ title aspirations.

Athlone then travel to Dublin to take on Bohemians, who will have former Town assistant manager Ken Kiernan in charge of his first home game. The All-Ireland Cup will again be staged in 2024 with match day one getting underway next. Athlone will then renew acquaintances with Shelbourne for the first time since the cup final with another tough test following when title holders Peamount visit. The first four league games will certainly give Kilduff an idea as to where his ambitions lie. Athlone will start their FAI Cup defence in early August with the final again down for decision at the Tallaght Stadium in late October. A week earlier Athlone will wind up their 22 game league campaign when they travel to Eamonn Deacy Park to play Galway.

Kilduff has already made preparations for 2024 with his first deal in assembling a squad seeing goalkeeper Katie Keane remaining in the Midlands. Madison Gibson and Laurie Ryan soon followed as Roisin Molloy and Kayleigh Shine have also stayed on board for another season.

 

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