Easter Sunday is going to be a big day for Longford RFC’s senior team when they take on Roscrea in Edenderry for a coveted place in the Provincial Towns Cup final. This is no small prize and it is one that this Longford team has been building towards over the last number of seasons. Roscrea for their part will also be looking at the prospect of a final tie with heavy weights Tullow or Tullamore as an achievable goal having one up on Longford from earlier in the season.
One thing is sure and that is that the supporters who make the trip to Edenderry are in for a real treat. This is Longford Rugby club’s biggest game since 1999. That was the last time they reached a Towns Cup Semi-Final. Director of Rugby at Longford RFC, Damien Curley is under no illusion as to the importance of this game: “This is an immense occasion for the club, we have only been here once before in 1999 and as you can imagine there is a lot of hope and expectation surrounding this team.”
The achievements of this squad over the past five years have been steadily growing. Their progress through the divisions has come as a result of a lot of hard graft, on and off the pitch. Curley says that the work ethos of the squad is what will stand to them next Sunday: “This team is playing a brand of rugby that has not been seen before in Longford. Colm Glynn came in as a very young coach and took this team by the scruff of the neck and changed the style of rugby that had been played up to that. Then Niall Moran came in three years ago and brought new ideas and a new approach to the way the forwards rugby was being played. Both coaches have had a serious impact on rugby in Longford. It has been a steady build and has been bearing fruit all along. Now we are in a position where we are in a Towns Cup semi-final.”
Next Sunday all of the players to don the black come from Longford or the surrounding counties. The players who have recently joined the club have made an immense contribution: “We finished off last season as losers in the plate final. The evening after that we decided to strengthen up the squad. Over the last few seasons we brought in some foreign players, some worked out, for example Tom Cullen and Riaan Van Der Vyver, some were not so successful. This time out we decided we would look at home. We brought a couple of guys in from Athlone and Clifford Richardson from Carrigallen came to play with us. All of those lads have been a massive boost to the club.”
Longford had a very good outing in Division 1B of the Leinster League this year. However this cup run is what has really got the supporters excited. The Director of Rugby believes that the path to the semi-final should stand to Longford: “We have got nothing soft in this campaign so far. We first played North Kildare in an absolute quagmire on their home patch. Our second round outing was against a much fancied Enniscorthy who had been beaten in a Junior Cup final the previous week by Tullamore. Then our last game was against Cill Dara, they have been a very strong club for the last 20 years. We have played very tough opposition along the way, but that should be in our favour.”
Longford’s last outing against the Tipperary side Roscrea saw the opposition take the spoils. The stakes in this encounter are that much higher: “We are not taking Roscrea lightly. They have not played the same calibre of teams in their run, but there has never been a weak Roscrea pack. If we can combat their forwards then we may have a little too much for them. A dry day would suit us. They are a big strong team, full of big men. If we got the right conditions to move the ball around it would be to our advantage. We do not want to become embroiled in an arm wrestle. Roscrea have already beaten us this season. That was in the Midlands League and our team was not at full strength. We know what they are capable of and we know that they are going to be very strong, but there is a quiet confidence in this Longford team. Roscrea are coached by John Lillis who guided the Cistercian College in Roscrea to a Leinster Schools Cup semi-final that they should have won, there is no doubting their credentials and we know that they will be ready to face us,” Curley says.
So Easter Sunday presents a major opportunity and challenge for this Longford side and if they overcome Roscrea then an historic final encounter beckons. If you are interested in attending the game just contact any member of Longford RFC for travel arrangement details.