Treaty ended preparations for their first ever season in SSE Airtricity senior men’s division with an excellent 2-1 win over Athlone Town AFC at the Markets Field with the overall manner of the display giving fans cause for optimism.
The game streamed live by Sporting Limerick provided close to 2,000 viewers with a glimpse of what everyone hopes will be a positive campaign for the region’s representatives.
Two excellent goals, some fine individual performances and the unveiling of a new shirt sponsor helped to build anticipation for the season ahead. However it was the manner in which the side went about their business that really excited viewers as the Treaty outfit not only secured a confidence injecting result but manager Tommy Barrett showed the aggressive approach that a lot of us have been calling for.
An attacking first half saw the locals race into a two-goal lead through a wonderful Sean McSweeney strike followed up a second goal when Clyde O’Connell’s persistence saw him get the better of the Athlone keeper. In truth a wider margin would not have flattered the hosts with Kieran Hanlon and McSweeney going close before Athlone reduced the deficit through a Kurtis Byrnes penalty just before interval.
When the two games against Adrian Carberry’s side was announced I had hoped the Treaty boss would employ different formations and tactics across both games in an attempt to familiarise his players with the different approaches required to secure points in the months ahead.
While the 0-0 draw in the midlands last week didn’t inspire me with confidence Saturday’s showing was a different proposition altogether and far more encouraging. On the front foot from the first whistle, Barrett instilled in his team the kind of tenacity and tempo that epitomises the Limerick spirit. Aggressive in their approach from keeper Tadgh Ryan not overplaying in the defensive third, Sean Guerin’s no nonsense defending bringing back memories of Derek Whyte, Jack Lynch being named as captain giving us an-field leader we can all trust to McSweeney’s goal threat lighting up the attacking third.
Flipping that approach right from the beginning of the second period when the manager sensed Athlone would come looking for that equaliser Barrett’s organisational skills were displayed with a disciplined defensive showing that all can be proud of.
Guerin partnered by Anto O’Donnell at the heart of defence looked rock solid and were ably assisted in the full back positions by Marc Ludden and Charlie Fleming. Tadgh Ryan and indeed Shane Cusack dealt comfortably with all that was thrown at them and witnessing the Jack Lynch approach of putting your body on the line for your team, by him and a number of team mates throughout the second period could do nothing but lift the spirits of all on Shannonside.
Seeing out the game and securing the win albeit with no points at stake has breathed the first bit of life into Treaty’s on the pitch journey but it was the bravery of Barrett’s approach that could be the key to this season’s points tally.