Bells get set for Athlone

by Stephen Findlater
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Bluebell United manager Andy Newman is hoping that a wealth of inside knowledge can help his side produce a shock result when they take on Athlone Town in the second round of the FAI Senior Cup in early June.
On Monday night, the Red Cow club were drawn to face the midlanders with Newman facing up against his mentor Roddy Collins while Trevor Molloy will be in the blues corner having been the assistant last season in Athlone.
For Newman, it makes for a challenge that he is already relishing.
“In the build-up to the draw, I was talking with Athlone manager Roddy Collins and the Cobh Ramblers manager Dave Hill – who were both at my wedding – and we joked about the possibility of playing each other.
“To come up against Athlone who I used to play for and Roddy who was the first person I turned to for advice when I got into senior management – and have often returned to for advice – is great for me and great for the club.”
And his continued friendship with Collins has aided his progression into management, guiding Bluebell to third in the LSL Sunday Senior division at this stage in the season.
“It’s the little things that he’s helped me with. Roddy is larger than life and above all, he said try and be true to yourself and not let myself be compromised. And, in fairness, I haven’t let that happen.
“We’ve utilised some of his boxing facilities out in Corduff and have a really close working relationship with him. It adds a little of spice to the occasion and I really can’t wait to lock horns with him.”
In addition, Newman previously lined out for Athlone for a season, signed up by Stephen Kelly before he was replaced by now Malahide United manager John Gill. During that year, he helped the side win the First Division and got an idea about the history of the club.
“Athlone are a big club. They have a really loyal support and with their new stadium, Roddy wouldn’t have taken the job if he didn’t feel there was potential.
“A good friend of mine played with the club against AC Milan in Europe and so they have massive tradition. It will be a great test at the end of our season. We may have tired legs and they’re going to be looking at it as a chance to move on but we’re going out to enjoy the occasion.”
Like many of the other intermediate clubs involved at this advanced stage of the competition, Bluebell have been forced to relinquish using their home ground due to FAI regulations but the manager is confident they can find a Dublin venue for the game.
Most likely, they will pursue playing the tie on the first weekend in June in either Richmond Park, Tallaght Stadium or Belfield but Newman is just delighted his side do not currently have to travel: “I don’t really care where it is as long as it meets the criteria and is in Dublin. I’ll be happy with that.”

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