EXCLUSIVE: Brilly returns to Athlone ahead of tonight's squad announcement
Article by Kieran Burke - @KieranBTS.
After much speculation and questions from both Athlone and League of Ireland fans in general, Athlone Town AFC last night revealed to Between the Stripes that manager Aaron Callaghan will reveal his senior squad for the 2018 First Division season tonight (Monday 05/02/18). However, Between the Stripes can exclusively reveal that former Longford Town and Cabinteely defender Aaron Brilly has agreed to return to the club he left for Home Farm last season.
Brilly (21), departed Athlone mid-season with the Midlands club gripped in the midst of a match-fixing scandal involving two of its foreign players, Igors Labuts and Dragos Sfrijan, who were subsequently banned for 12 months each by the FAI in a controversial case. With Athlone glued to the foot of the second tier and Brilly strangely being over looked by then manager Ricardo Monsanto on a consistent basis, the youngster decided to cut ties with the club and soon signed for Dublin based Home Farm.
Despite his tender years, Brilly is already a well traveled player in terms of the number of clubs he has represented. Starting out with Longford Town’s under 19’s in 2012, Brilly’s leadership qualities were evident long before he was named as captain of the underage side whom he would represent proudly until his departure from the club in May 2014. Having impressed Town boss Tony Cousins enough to earn a handful of senior appearances during his time with the club, it was a surprise to many Longford supporters that Brilly was shown the door by the former Galway manager.
A spell with Northern Irish Football League club Newry City was to follow before the Dubliner arrived at Cabinteely in time for their inaugural season in the League of Ireland. Brilly played in ‘’Cabo’s’’ famous opening day win over Wexford Youths and went on to make nineteen appearances for the Stradbrook club that season. Twenty-six appearances were to follow in 2016 before Brilly made the decision to join Athlone in February of last year.
Ahead of Aaron Callaghan’s squad announcement tonight it appears as if Brilly may be joined by two more former Longford Town FC players as Kaleem Simon and Etanda Nkololo both scored for the ‘‘ Blue and Black’’ in a 2-1 pre-season win over Lucan United at the weekend. Simon had only recently been on trial with Premier Division outfit Limerick, while Nkololo was a league winner with Longford in 2014 and starred for Athlone following his summer arrival at the club last season.