Longford Town face a very tough game on Friday night next when they travel to Tolka Park to take on the league leaders Shelbourne on their home patch. There is no doubt that Shels are one of the strongest teams in the First Division this season and the fact that they have failed to get back into the Premier Division over the last few seasons has pushed them to strengthening their squad this season.
Shelbourne’s record to date from ten games is seven wins , two draws and one defeat. Their only setback to date was a home 3-2 loss to Roddy Collins Monaghan. When the Town met Shels on the opening day of the season at Flancare Park the visitors won 2-1 – a result that really didn’t do justice to the new look Longford team who would count themselves very unlucky to lose.
Two silly defensive mistakes gifted Alan Matthews side the three points but the Town have steadied up considerably since that, only conceding five goals in the last nine games. The Shels team who played the Town that day had a Premier Division look about it. Keeper Dean Delaney played many games in Europe for Shels while Stephen Paisley, Ian Ryan and new signing Lorcan Fitzgerald have all played in the Premier Division.
Conan Byrne, who was chased by many Premier Clubs when Sporting Fingal folded, is good enough to play overseas. The McGills Brendan and David and Cassidy are all capable of playing Premier football. Philip Hughes is a top class striker and his strike partner Karl Bermingham both would hold their own in the premier Division.
Another former Town player Colm James is a very versatile player who can play in defence or in midfield and he is capable of being one of the top players in the Division.
It will take a massive effort from the Town lads to get a result against Shels but Tony Cousins has assembled a very useful squad and for the first time he has cover for most positions on the team.
Keeper Paul Hunt has been a revelation since he took over from the then injured Alvin Rouse. Hunt was superb in Cork two weeks ago and is undoubtedly the find of the season.
At the moment two defenders are out through injury, Graham Dowling who signed at the beginning of the season has been out for over two months but by all accounts is close to a return to full fitness. Local lad Michael Lee is also a long time absentee and he may have to have an operation to clear up his problem.
There is no doubt that Tony Cousins will be hoping for a quick return to action of his injured players. Don Cowan missed the recent Cork game due to an injury he picked up in the warm up for the game in Turners Cross. The in form striker has caused numerous problems for opposing defences and his partnership with Austin Skelly is one of the best in the league.
If the Town have the strongest possible squad available on Friday next they should give the league leaders a very testing game.
After the Shelbourne game the Town are at home on Thursday week when they entertain Wexford Youths at Flancare Park. After that it is away to Mervue United at Fahys Field on Monday May 30th. The following weekend the Town are at home to Finn Harps in the 3rd round of the FAI Cup.
The winning numbers in last week’s Lotto Draw were as follows: 12, 22, 23, 29. No jackpot winner. 100 euro winner Dolores Reynolds, Caldamore Longford; 25 euro winner Frank Gilchrist, Toorafin, Longford; Peter Creamer, Ardnacassa, Longford; Eamon Keogh, Ohill, Longford; Anne Heaney, Ballinalee, Co Longford. Next week’s draw will be held in the Tally Ho Bar, New St, Longford.
Home to Finn Harps in the FAI Cup
The draw for the third round of the FAI Cup took place in Dublin on Monday week last and the Town were given a home draw against fellow First Division side Finn Harps. At the time of writing Harps are bottom of the First Division after last weekends 2-1 defeat to Mervue United at Fahys Field, that coupled with Salthill Devon’s surprise 3-1 victory over Wexford Youths. Harps are under new management with former Derry City star Peter Hutton taking over the reins at Finn Park. Hutton is manager but they also have another former Derry player Felix Healy at the club as director of football.