ATHLONE Town boss Roddy Collins admits he has had a few sleepless nights over the prospect of meeting Bluebell United next Saturday evening in the FAI Senior Cup second round at 7pm.
It is because of the close relationship he has with Bluebell manager Andy Newman who regards Collins as a mentor since taking on the top job with the Red Cow club.
Speaking to GazetteSport, the colourful League of Ireland boss explained that inside knowledge can make the LSL Sunday Senior side a major threat against his Airtricity first division outfit.
“When Andy [Newman] was just getting into management I had a couple of meetings with him,” said Collins, “and it was obvious from his enthusiasm, even then, that he’d go on to be a very good manager.
“I’ve kept an eye on his team over the years and you can tell from the way that they play that Andy is a very astute and clever manager. To be honest, Bluebell were the last team I wanted to draw and not only because Andy knows how I operate.
“They’ve also got seasoned campaigners like Trevor Molloy who has played under me for a long time, but on the day that will go out the window for the game.”
Such is Collins’ respect for Newman that he has set about putting together a new tactic for the game, being only too aware of the Bluebell boss’s knowledge and awareness of the way he goes about his business.
“Andy wants to learn everything and he is very quick at picking up on what the opposition are doing, but he has a mind of his own, and that’s important. To be honest, I was lying in bed last night and I was thinking about playing a completely new tactic against his side at the weekend, a system that he has never seen.
“I’ve seen Bluebell play more than a few times and they are very solid. They lack a slight bit of pace but they’re a cute and competitive bunch. They’ve risen to the top of the junior football ranks and one of the most daunting things about them is that they are used to winning.”
A veteran of five FAI Senior Cup finals, Collins has told his Athlone side what he expects of them in John Hyland Park, and insists that “attitude is paramount”.
“We took a loss to Waterford last week and I told the lads, if they play like that again that Bluebell would run over them.
“The attitude needs to be right. If the lads run out on the pitch and think they’re going to walk over Bluebell they have another thing coming.
“This could be their last game of the season and I know we’re in for a serious game. It’s going to be very tricky, it’s a one off and anything can happen.”