‘We need to build on success’

Longford County Council hosted a Civic Reception for Longford Town FC to mark their achievement in winning the 2014 SSE Airtricity League First Division and pictured left to right are: Cllr Padraig Loughrey, Longford County Council Cathaorleach Cllr Mark Casey, Jim Hanley (Chairperson of Longford Town FC) and team captain Mark Salmon. Photo: Willie Farrell
Longford Town’s promotion back to the top tier of Irish soccer could provide the springboard for a new wave of up and coming footballers.

Longford Town’s promotion back to the top tier of Irish soccer could provide the springboard for a new wave of up and coming footballers.

That’s the view, at least, of Cllr Gerry Warnock, who led calls for a development officer to be appointed to the town to capitalise on the Town’s title winning exploits.

Speaking at last week’s county council meeting, Cllr Warnock said never before was there an opportunity to press home Longford’s burgeoning potential when it comes to soccer. “It’s a huge achievement to get back to the top flight of Irish soccer and it will be of huge economic benefit to the town,” he predicted.

“It might also be time to liaise with the FAI (Football Association of Ireland) to looking into appointing a community liason officer for the promotion of soccer in our county.”

The Independent representative revealed Longford was one of only a handful of counties to have been left without any dedicated FAI personnel at a grassroots level.

There was wholesome praise too from another soccer follower in the form of Cathaoirleach, Cllr Mark Casey.

He said the success enjoyed by Tony Cousins’ charges was almost on a par with the club’s historic FAI Cup success of 2007.

“Seldom do we get good news stories in Longford,” he said, adding the side’s return to the SSE Airtricity Premier Division was well worth the wait.

“It’s obviously fantastic to see. One of the proudest moments for the club was being up in Dublin when they beat St Pat’s (to win the FAI Cup).”

As well as the deluge of compliments, there was plenty of light-hearted moments too.

Noting the duties of Fine Gael Cllr John Duffy as a regular GAA commentator on Shannonside Radio, Cllr Casey jokingly suggested his colleague might turn his hand to soccer.

Last week’s council debate preceded a civic reception the local authority held for Longford Town and its players over the weekend.

Dozens of fans turned out for the celebration which was staged on the town’s Market Square on Sunday evening.

That came after the Midlanders rounded off their campaign with a 2-0 win away to Donegal side, Finn Harps.

Next up for Tony Cousins and his management team is a five-month timeframe in which the Dubliner and his backroom staff will be hoping to ensure De Town’s return to the upper echelons of Irish soccer is not a short-lived one.