Adrian Carberry can dream of promotion for his local club, or at the very least look forward to a play-off place later this term, on the basis of this staggering victory over a much-talked-about Galway United.

Carberry, pacing the sideline, embodied the vigour of his side here as, inspired by the mesmerising Adam Wixted, they ran the Tribesmen ragged on a beautiful evening in the midlands, with the football on display pretty breathtaking at times.

Goals from Stephen Meaney followed a Gary Boylan own-goal as Town, who came back from behind to draw against UCD on week one, advertised themselves as genuine contenders for the title, despite a Wilson Waweru consolation.

Make no fool of yourself: they have the players to give it a real go.

Athlone's new-look team were superb in the first half, taking the lead somewhat against the run of play on 11 minutes. Wixted, who was the best player on the park, played a lovely ball down the line to Aidan Friel whose fierce cross was headed into his own net by Boylan.

Stephen Walsh's header on 15 minutes fell to Meaney but he shanked his effort, something he would not do three minutes later. This time, it seemed as though Shane Doherty might have been fouled in the Town box but the ball was cleared and, after a lovely Wixted pass, Meaney hammered the ball beyond a despairing Conor Kearns.

Adrian Carberry

An outrageous Doherty flick, producing a Michael Schlingermann save, showcased the quality at both ends in this hugely entertaining contest; said contest itself, however, seemed over on 26 minutes when Meaney scored the goal of the game.

Wixted and the hugely influential Kurtis Byrne teamed up; Dan McKenna found James Doona, who ghosted in beyond Mo Nugent; the task at the back post for Meaney was simple.

The task for Galway was now gargantuan.

They had made three changes by the start of the second half, John Caulfield now the poker player on heads-up with crumbs as chips on the table. More goals seemed certain and it was hard to know how one of those subs, Wilson Waweru, didn't make it 3-1 from a matter of yards on 51 minutes.

At the other end, the excellent Friel forced a fine Kearns save before Meaney blasted over in the hat-trick's pursuit.

United kept pressing but should have gone further behind 19 minutes into the half. Carlton Ubaezuono did unbelievably well to clear in a one-v-three situation but it fell to Wixted who lashed a thunderbolt off the bar; the goal he deserved to crown a sensational performance would not arrive.

United got one back with 13 minutes left as Waweru hammered over after a Schlingermann spill under pressure. Within moments, we were almost treated to a goal that would have gone viral, Byrne having a pop-shot out of nothing from an absurdly difficult angle that had everyone in awe, only for the crossbar to intervene. 

United still believed, at least until Ubazezuono dragged his back-post effort towards the Dublin Road. What a desperate shame no fans were treated to this classic in the midlands.

This will be a hell of a First Division of 2021.

Athlone Town: Schlingermann; Friel, Hand, Cantwell, Daly; Wixted; Hollywood (Watson 85), McKenna, Doona; Byrne; Meaney (Barnes 71).

Galway United: Kearns; O'Keefe, Boylan, Nugent, Walsh (Ubaezuono 46), Hurley (Place 33); Doherty (Rowe 82), Duggan, McCormack; Keating, Cunningham (Waweru 46).

Referee: Michael Connolly.

Keith Dalton is congratulated by team mates after scoring Cabinteely's winner

It's Cabinteely who end the night top of the table. The south Dublin club are the only side with a 100% record after they beat Cork City 1-0 at Stradbrook.

There were no fewer than six goals at Tolka Park as Shelbourne and Bray Wanderers drew 3-3. The Wicklow club twice fell behind and fought back, before Brandon Kavanagh put them ahead in the second half.

But Shels weren't to be denied as Georgie Poynton's penalty earned them a share of the spoils.

While Anto O'Donnell will be the quiz question answer in the future. The Cork-native got the only goal, and Treaty United's first in the League of Ireland, as the Limerick club beat Wexford at Markets Field.