STRUGGLERS Athlone Town have turned to former Bray Wanderers coach Keith Long to try and keep them in the Premier Division following the exit of Mick Cooke as manager after a run of 10 straight defeats.
A club statement today said: "Athlone Town FC would like to wish Keith and Eddie the best of luck in their new positions. Their first game in charge will be against Bray Wanderers this Friday night in Athlone Town Stadium".
Athlone won a place in the Premier Division for 2014 having lifted the Division One title under Roddy Collins last season, but the campaign has been a disaster for the midlands club, their run of 10 successive losses the worst start to a league season by any club since 1935. And in the aftermath of their latest loss, Friday's 4-0 defeat away to champions St Patrick's Athletic, Cooke has stepped down with immediate effect – the first managerial casualty of the season.
"Over the weekend after discussions with the chairman I feel that despite the team being so close to getting results, I just cannot find the right button to get us over the line and gain the all important results we need," said Cooke.
"I feel that 28 points will be enough for the team to remain in the Premier Division and by letting a new man take charge they may find that button and it will give him a chance of keeping the club in the Premier," added Cooke.
After Bray on Friday comes a tricky run with a trip to Dublin to face Shamrock Rovers and then a meeting with a resurgent Sligo Rovers.