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Not long until the Champions first pre season game away to Longford. 7th of February in City Calling Stadium

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mintyblue
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PostSubject: off field news   Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:33 am

talk from commitee officials that "key appointments" are set to made off the field of play in the near future, wonder what those may be?
rumour of one of these being a new general manager or chief executive officer full time!
the construction of an all-weather pitch has been suggested also(all of this coming from the westmeath indo as usuall).
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PostSubject: Re: off field news   Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:54 am

very good step forward for the club if true
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PostSubject: Re: off field news   Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:06 am

My name is Damien Rushe and I play for my hometown club, Athlone Town in the Airtricity League First Division. I made my debut in the then League of Ireland 13 years ago, and bar a brief stint in Australia and two seasons with a local junior team, I have spent my playing time in the First Division.

I have been asked to write a column for the coming Airtricity League season. I hope to give you an insight into what it is like playing in the ‘graveyard’ First Division as a semi professional or amateur and trying to combine family, work and football.

There are no WAGS, Ferraris or big money transfer deals. Just an average player who loves to play football, telling his stories and giving his views on the Airtricity League and football in general. I hope you enjoy it.

Another season ahead and another tough pre-season to get through. Funnily, pre-season never bothered me; I love to train and would feel at a loss if I missed the vital sessions at this time of the year.

Despite my hard work in the off-season, maintaining and improving fitness and strength, my only concern going back down on the first night was; will the young lads be flying? Will I be shown up? When I was younger I loved nothing better than ‘emptying the tank’ in the long lung-busting runs and showing the manager that I was in better nick than most.

Now with many years of League of Ireland experience under my belt, you begin to wonder. Will the legs be able for it? Should I step aside? But not to worry, I more than held my own and now am confident of pushing on and getting myself in the best possible shape for the new season ahead.

We just got the news of the new First Division layout; eight teams, each playing the others four times. I remember when I started playing in the league, there was a similar format.

I can’t say I really enjoyed it. For example, we play our near neighbours Longford Town FC four times in the league format. We will probably meet in the regionalised version of the League Cup and could very well meet in the FAI cup or the Leinster Senior Cup.

As a player, you enjoy playing against different teams in different grounds, travelling to new places and preparing to play against different styles and formations.

With this First Division structure, you get to know your opposition so well. Each game you greet your opponent with a grin, both ready to renew the rivalry or battle of the last game.

The First Division is a real ‘Tour de Ireland’ this season. Two teams from Galway, Waterford, Finn Harps, Wexford, Athlone, Longford and Limerick and for the first season in a long time, no trip to the capital.

The First Division is a real battle, extremely tough to get out of and on their day, any team can beat each other. But as always, the best and most consistent team will be promoted.

This coming season, all the talk is about three teams. Limerick, with financial backing and a high profile manager, have kept most of last season’s squad and added some quality to their team, so they will be favourites. Longford Town have also added some astute signings to their squad and Waterford have captured some good players too. Most people expect these teams to battle it out at the top, but the rest of the teams, including ourselves, will be confident of improving on last season and having a good year.

Last season we made progress. The younger players have a season under their belt now and we hope that many of them will push on this year and begin to carve out a good reputation for themselves and the club.

There have always been good young players in Athlone, with the local schoolboy league ADSL producing many fine players down through the years. Many have fallen by the wayside and have not fulfilled their potential, but now that is beginning to change, With an excellent youth set-up and good coaching, more and more players are coming through.

It is important that these young players stick at it. When times are tough and they are finding it difficult, they must want to succeed, they must want to train hard and they must want to practice and improve!

I look forward to the season ahead. As pre-season starts, I enjoy the atmosphere, the meeting of new teammates, the camaraderie in the dressing room, the preparation for the weekend game, the buzz of the night games under lights, the feeling of winning a game. I know that if we work hard as a team, stick together in games and listen to the manager, we will surprise a few people this season.

At Athlone Town, like the majority of clubs in the Division, we will be hoping to add to our squad. It can be difficult to attract experienced players so we will probably go down the route of developing young and upcoming players, with a sprinkle of some older players who can add quality and experience to the squad.

At the moment, life as a First Division player can be tough. Gone are the days when we were handsomely rewarded financially for our efforts. Yes we get some reward financially, but a lot of players are playing more for the love of the game and to test themselves at the highest level suitable to their ability.

With the First Division so spread out around the country, it means long journeys taking time off work without compensation and a lot of time away from normal family life. Many players will find themselves playing in the league and it costing them money. Why do we do it? Because we love to play!

I look forward to the season ahead and keeping you posted in my next blog.

Thanks for reading

Rushie.



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PostSubject: Re: off field news   Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:28 am

Dec thanks for printing Damiens column here really enjoyed reading it
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mintyblue
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PostSubject: Re: off field news   Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:36 am

cabsyusa wrote:
Dec thanks for printing Damiens column here really enjoyed reading it
Smile no probs mate
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PostSubject: Re: off field news   Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:43 pm

Rushie's second installment.

http://www.sportsnewsireland.com/soccer_irish/84793/
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