Billy Dennehy hoping home venue can bear fruit for Kerry FC after back to back away defeats
After consecutive games away from home, Kerry FC host Athlone Town in front of a sell-out crowd at Mounthawk Park this evening
After two games away from home, Kerry FC will be hoping the more familiar surrounds of Mounthawk Park, and another sell-out crowd at the Tralee venue, can inspire them to getting something out of the round 6 game against Athlone Town, who currently sit fifth in the 10-team division after a decent start to their season.
Billy Dennehy said he would have liked had his team been back at base last weekend, following their 9-1 drubbing in Galway the previous weekend, but it actually might be no bad thing that the team had to go on the road again last weekend, where they were perhaps unfortunate not to get something more positive from their 2-1 defeat to Wexford FC.
At least that game has afforded Kerry FC to rinse that Galway experience from their system, and they can approach what should be viewed as a winnable home game with renewed confidence, with some remove from the horror show in Eamonn Deacy Park.
Athlone Town started with their season with a 3-1 win away to Longford Town, and followed up with a 3-1 win at home against Finn Harps. Things went downhill after that with a 3-0 loss away to Wexford and a 1-0 home defeat to Waterford, though the latter are arguably the second strongest team in the division after Galway United/.
Last weekend Athlone drew with Treaty United in a 2-2 draw that probably felt like a win. Having gone 1-0 down to the Limerick visitors, Athlone had Jamar Campion-Hinds sent off, and then went 2-0 in the 69th minute.
Isaie Louis’s 83rd minute goal gave them some hope but probably felt like a consolation goal until Noah van Geenen popped up for a 98th minute equaliser, which – Billy Dennehy says – will give Athlone a confidence boost coming to Mounthawk Park this evening.
“Athlone are another established League of Ireland club, they’ve done a lot of great work off the pitch over the last number of years in terms of their facility and their ground and they’re probably another club that’s looking at their next phase in terms of can they get into those play-off positions,” Dennehy says of tonight’s opposition.
"They’ve started the season quite well but in this division there are teams that can take points off each other and we’ve probably seen that with Athlone as well in terms of the games they have lost. And against Treaty, Treaty are 2-0 up, Athlone have a man sent off and they come back and get a draw out of the game so, of course that will give them a huge boost going into the game.
“We’ll focus a lot on ourselves in terms of how we prepare, how we analyse the Wexford game, implementing one or two things and giving the players little bits of information that might help us. But we’ve no doubts about it, it’s going to be another difficult game, as they all are,” the Kerry FC manager said.
"But the best thing about it it that it’s a home game. We would have been hoping to be at home after the heavy defeat to Galway but the players went out (in Wexford) and put in a good performance and were very unfortunate not to get something out of the game, and we’re all really looking forward to coming back into Mounthawk Park because there’s no doubt about it, it gives everyone a massive boost, and the massive support gives everyone the incentive to go on and do really well.
Campion-Hinds was sent off for a second bookable offence against Treaty, and his absence this evening will certainly be a help to Kerry FC, though Louis and Frantz Pierrot are two in form strikers in a side that likes to play a 4-3-3 formation.
Kerry FC can be expected to make some changes to the starting team from last Friday, though Andy Quaid went off injured in Ferrycarrig Park and could be in danger of missing out against Athlone Town.
LEAGUE OF IRELAND FIRST DIVISION
Kerry FC v Athlone Town
Friday, March 24
Mounthawk Park, Tralee at 7.45pm