New Athlone boss Adrian Carberry: 'It's a huge club with a massive history - It's important that the players are made aware of that'

Sat, Dec 21 2019

Opportunities lie in waiting for Athlone Town in 2020. A recently installed 4G pitch, combined with a new manager – the famous Blue and Black stripes of the Midlands can certainly look to push on.

With former manager Terry Butler departing the club last week, Athlone Town moved quickly to fill the void left by their former boss with the appointment of club stalwart Adrian Carberry as their new first-team manager.

Carberry – a UEFA Pro Licence holder – will combine the role as Athlone boss with his position as the FAI Development Officer for Roscommon.

“It’s a great opportunity for me,” the former League of Ireland midfielder told extratime.ie.   

“Athlone is a sleeping giant. There’s a fantastic set-up there, the facilities are top class to be fair.

“There’s an opportunity to look at the younger players, take a look at the structures within the club and putting the right ones in place and getting players through the whole way.

“The introduction of the women’s team means that there is now a pathway for both boys and girls which is a great opportunity.”

Carberry then added; “Athlone Town needs to be brought back to Athlone because there’s not a connection with the people then. There’s not a connection with the local businessmen, the people of Athlone and the fans.

“That’s more important than results on the field I think and bringing Athlone back to Athlone (is important).

“If you’re a young boy 13/14/15 playing with Athlone and you see the first-team training I feel that gives you something to want to aspire to in wanting to play for the club. That’s the plan and what we want to do.”

Only 20 years ago, Athlone Town were competing in a FAI Cup semi-final – with Carberry etching his name into Athlone folklore with a late winner away to Longford Town in 1999 in a memorable last eight clash.

With that in mind, and his association with a club that has given him so much in his footballing life, the former Galway United is looking to bring the glory days back to the Co. Westmeath club.

“I’m a football development officer with the FAI so football has been my life after I stopped playing, and even before I stopped playing.

“There’s only so long you can stand back and say ‘they could do this and that to make it better’. When the chance comes up, stop talking, get in there and do something to make it better down there.

“I’m not saying guys before me didn’t, Terry Butler and Mitch Whitty did a fantastic job on a small budget and should be commended for it.

“It’s a huge club with a massive history, the Blue and Black stripes, playing AC Milan. We have such a history there and it’s important that the players are made aware of that.

“I don’t think as players many know about that and for me that’s sad to not know about the history of the club.”

Since ending his career as a League of Ireland footballer in the mid-noughties – Dave Connell’s under-19 assistant boss praised the work clubs have done during his time away from the league.

“Clubs have done their best on a shoestring budget and you can see it,” Carberry said.

“I’ve travelled around with my role with the under-19 Irish girls to different clubs and seeing how leagues and facilities all over Europe operate, and we are miles behind.

“Athlone would be pushing up there, but some grounds haven’t changed at all over the years and clubs need help.

“The league needs to be taken a bit more seriously, I think. It’s a fantastic thing we have but it’s like everything else, like Athlone at the moment.

“Change is good and starting off on rock bottom again means there’s only one way to go as the saying goes and that’s up.

“Look, it’s a fantastic league, and it has served me as an average player very well for the time I was in it and it is great to be back again.”

And having earned his stripes as a UEFA Pro Licence holder in 2018 along with a star-studded line-up – Carberry admits he took in a lot from his studies in the programme.  

“The one thing the Pro Licence taught me was that you know absolutely nothing about football (laughs).  

“You always have to be looking to pick up something new and it can come from anywhere. One of the most important one’s I learned was self-reflection.

“Even when things are going well you can go back and adjust to make it even better again, and when things go wrong you can go back and look to fix things and that was really it.

“The most important thing for me was the people who I was on the course with that I really respect and took a lot from and I will be leaning on them going forward.”

But looking ahead to 2020, ‘Cabsy’ as he was affectionately known by the Athlone faithful, is hopeful that he can push the club on next term.  

“We have a chance. It’s open for anyone really, and any team can aim for a playoff and god knows what can happen there.

“When you look at expectations, when you finish second from bottom – well third if you look at the Limerick story, which is a very sad state of affairs unfortunately.

“It’s very sad to think there might be no team from Limerick in the League of Ireland next year which is horrendous. When I started watching football, they were winning cups.

“What I’ve said is that I want to bring Athlone back to Athlone and try make ourselves competitive again.

“If you look at the pitch we have down there, it’s a big pitch and we’ve got to say to our players to play on this, is that you’ve got to be able to play for ninety minutes.

“Style of play will come if we’re allowed play. If we can play, we will but that’s not always the case.

“We’ll look to play. When we have the chance to play, we will play but we’ll be mixing it, that’s for sure.”