This Sunday Longford RFC contest their first Towns Cup final since 1932. Having knocked out the title holders Enniscorthy along the way, Longford have tread an interesting path with a fair few close encounters. The team has progressed steadily through the season and the Towns Cup final appearance is a fitting reward.
Scrum half Neal Farrell says that the interest in the game from people outside the rugby circle is adding to the build up: “There is a nice atmosphere around the town and we are getting a lot of encouragement. I got asked in work “are you nervous yet?” and that is great, because people are interested in it. It is a big deal for us, the team and the club, and it nice to see that other people feel the same.”
It’s been a challenging campaign and every inch of the journey to the final has been a slog: “We are hoping that our Cup run will stand to us. We went out and beat two teams that were in a higher Division than us, Cill Dara in Kildare and then the holders Enniscorthy, they were massive games. Then to put in the semi-final performance against Roscrea and hold out for the last 10 minutes on the line shows what this team is all about. That is what you need going into a Cup Final, everybody putting their body on the line. You want everybody in the same frame of mind.”
The number 9 is well aware of the magnitude of the task ahead of them on Sunday: “Going up against Tullamore is going to be tough. They are going to run you ragged if you give them the space. We played them at the start of the year and they ran through us, so we know how formidable they are. We have to work together as a team. I think if we move ruck ball quickly we have a chance of breaking them down. If we get caught up in an arm wrestle with Tullamore, considering the physical strength of their pack, then it will not suit us. But we have a good set of players and we will be hoping to employ every one of them.”
Neil says that Longford are going to have to capitalise on every advantage they get. He hopes that the crowd will be one of those advantages: “Hopefully there will be a big crowd from Longford. There are a few buses going. There is a bus going from Buccaneers in Athlone and there is a bus going from my work place. There are also buses going from the club, so there is great interest in the big game. There was a big crowd at the semi-final and hopefully there will be an even bigger one at the final. We are hoping that they will be the 16th man and it may give us the advantage we need against Tullamore.”