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It's been a while coming, one of the longest off seasons in world football, but Wexford FC return to SSE Airtricity First Division League action tomorrow night with an away trip to Lissywollen to face Athlone Town.

The midlanders were the last team we faced in the League, a 2-0 win for us at Ferrycarrig on the last day of the season on 21st September 2018, Aaron Dobbs and Dean Walsh on target. Dobbs and Walsh are just two of seven Wexford players on the starting line up that night that are no longer at Ferrycarrig Park (Dobbs gone to Longford, Walsh back to Waterford). Two of the other seven players, John Morgan and Dean George, signed for Athlone over the close season. The only players on the starting line up back in September that are in the current Wexford FC squad are Corey Chambers, Danny Doyle, Liam McCartan and Sean Kelly.

Major changes also for Athlone over the off season, the side that notably defeated Dundalk FC in the Leinster Senior Cup earlier this week featured not one single starting player from that last League encounter with us back in September. Manager Terry Butler (who formerly coached at St.Pat's and Bohemians) completely revamped and strengthened his squad over the Winter with players like Darren Meenan (over 100 apps. for Dundalk and 3 League title medals), Gareth McCaffrey (Drogheda Utd), Rhys Gorman (BrayWanderers/Longford Town) Kealan Dillon (Drogheda Utd) and Kaleem Simon (Cabinteely/Longford Town). A mix of vast League of Ireland experience and promising young talents like Dean Williams (Shamrock Rovers) who scored in their 1-0 win over Dundalk. As well as John Morgan and Dean George, Athlone also signed Shane Dunne who was a Ferrycarrig favourite with Wexford Youths and was part of the Youths First Division title winning team in 2015.

Add to that some obvious real investment behind the scenes and a brand new 3G astro pitch and there seems to be real optimism at Athlone of a successful season after finishing bottom of the First Division for the past three years. 

Wexford FC have met Athlone on seven occasions with a record of two wins, two draws and three defeats but there is very little to take away from those past meetings with the vastly different squads on view tomorrow night at Athlone Town Stadium.

New Wexford FC Manager Brian O'Sullivan will of course take charge of his first League game tomorrow after Monday nights 3-0 Leinster Senior Cup defeat to St.Patrick's Athletic at Richmond Park. Brian was happy with parts of his teams performance in Inchicore:

"We did well for an hour or so but when we got into the final third it kept breaking down for us, they were obviously a bit better and cleverer than us around the box. But our team shape was generally good, energy was good, everybody put in a decent shift so I can't really complain too much. It's just moving forward we need to be better in that final third, getting our midfield up to support the front players a bit better. But it wasn't a bad performance against top quality full time opposition."

As for tomorrow night's game, Brian is looking forward to the challenge:

"Athlone have brought in a lot of good players, they're looking strong this year with the likes of Rhys Gorman and Darren Meenan, but we're looking to get our season off to a good start, give our fans a bit of a lift. Our squad is ready, we added Sean (Callan from Shamrock Rovers) this week, he's a promising defender and it's an area we wanted to strengthen a bit more and maybe we can still add one more new player to the squad, we'll see."

Brian has a full squad to choose from barring any knocks after the final training session of the week last night.

The game kicks off at the Athlone Town Stadium at 7:45pm on Friday night.

 

CURRENT STANDINGS

League of Ireland First Division

    Pld +/- Pts
8 Cobh Ramblers 14 -7 12
9 Athlone Town 13 -16 10
10 Wexford FC 14 -18 8

Full table

 

Women's National League

    Pld +/- Pts
1 Peamount United 8 26 24
2 Wexford Youths Women 8 16 19
3 Shelbourne FC 8 29 17

Full table

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