Athlone Town Stadium is the destination on Saturday as Danny Murphy brings his squad to face the Midlander’s for a 7pm kick off in the SSE Airtricity Women’s Premier Division. Athlone come off the back of an impressive 3-1 victory over Wexford Youths in Ferrycarrig Park last weekend, but Murphy and his squad are buoyed by a narrow loss in an excellent contest with Peamount United.
“I think it was one of our best performances since I came in, even though we didn’t get the result. In terms of the tactical approach, we stuck to the game plan throughout and created opportunities to score while limiting Peamount, especially in the second half, and we could have gotten the draw. Overall, it was all positive. When we’ve played against Peamount in recent times there’s been a little bit of fear and that’s gone now. We have given a sense of what we can do, and the great thing is, I and the players all know, we can play better than that, we have another level. There’s belief there that we can compete against the top teams.”
Lauren Walsh’s second half strike set up a grandstand finish as City sought an equaliser and Murphy expects Walsh to start on Saturday. “Anna [Costello] is out this weekend, she will be a loss. Lauren will step in there and it’s fantastic that we have that depth within the squad, her pace and aggression will be a positive as we expect that Athlone will move the ball quicker from front to back that Peamount did, so it’s a different challenge.”
“We’ll have a few tweaks in our approach as Athlone are a very different team to Peamount, they won’t be as patient in the build-up, and will move the ball quicker. They’ll be a little more direct and attack with numbers. But from a tactical point of view the structure will be similar.”
A lot of plaudits last weekend went to the back three of Niamh Cotter (16), Anna Costello (19) and Heidi Mackin (17) and Murphy admits it bodes well for the club. “Our policy is always to bring the younger girls through, but you have to be patient with them and with our own expectations. They need time to work on the hard part, which is building in consistency and being able to put in those standards regularly. We know we have some brilliant players in the academy, but the work goes in to making sure they can step in when needed in an easy transition. That takes time, you don’t want to throw them in the deep end, but we’re in no rush at their age."