Steve Feeney reflects on Athlone, looks ahead to Bonagee

Sligo Rovers manager Steve Feeney took his team to Athlone last Saturday as the action resumed in the Women’s Premier Division after an almost two-month break for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, writes Conall Collier.

“Leading up to the break I didn’t actually realise how big an impact it would have, it was way too long, we were off from the League from early June until mid-August with the Avenir Sports Cup providing three games,” commented Steve after the 2-0 defeat in Athlone.

“That (Avenir Sports Cup) was useful and it was a good competition, but playing each week in the League is what will stand to a team in terms of development and progress.

“We have also picked up a few injuries in the last three weeks that we were going through a type of pre-season routine again.

“We have a very inexperienced team, we have a 19-year-old captain and we finished the game in Athlone with a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old playing in the centre-half positions.

“I thought we competed well, the plan was to let Athlone have more of the ball and stay in the game.

“We were disappointed with the two goals we conceded, they were preventable and from our side we really didn’t cause Athlone enough problems.

“Nevertheless, it was pleasing to see the attitude and the effort of the players and we need to build on that and make sure we are more of a threat going forward.

“Going in at the interval after conceding that second goal just on the stroke of half-time, I wasn’t convinced that it was a goal, but the assistant-referee gave it, I thought it might have been a bit of a guess.

“If we had gone in at 1-0 down, I felt that we would have had more of a chance in the second-half, but then to counter that, Athlone could claim that they created many other chances that they didn’t finish.

“We had to plan without Keela Scanlon and then we lost Sarah Kiernan in the first-half, hopefully her injury isn’t too serious, but Keela will be out for the remainder of the season.

“Keeva Flynn went in for Sarah and she did well and Jodi Loughrey also was playing out of position.

“Then we had Eimear Lafferty playing her first game in a back three that she wouldn’t be familiar with, all gave encouraging performances, but we need to start winning games.

“We finished the game well against Athlone, we pushed on a bit and created some chances, but at times we made the wrong choice.

“The players will benefit from the game and Athlone are one of the stronger teams, the League position for them at the moment is not a true reflection of what they can do.

“They have a strong squad, they are probably in a false position, it was a serious work out for us and that will stand to us in the next game, the FAI Cup against Bonagee Utd,” he concluded.