Longford Town manager Neale Fenn starts his first full season this Saturday night at City Calling Stadium in the opening First Division fixture against Cobh Ramblers, kick-off 7.30pm.
After a lot of pre season training and quite a few pre-season friendlies the real stuff starts on Saturday night.
These two teams met for the first time last year at City Calling Stadium in the second game of the season (Cobh winning 3-1) after the Town travelled to Tolka Park in the opening game, a game that ended scoreless against Shelbourne.
It's nice to note that Cobh manager Stephen Henderson is making the Town one of the favourites for the automatic promotion spot.
There are a few other pundits saying that the Town are one of the favourites but knowing Neale Fenn he will not be interested in speculation from other sources.
Last season the Town were strongly fancied to go up and we all remember what happened. Last pre season the Town had some fantastic results in the games leading up to the commencement of the League but it proved to be a false dawn.
There is no doubt that this season's promotion race could turn out to be a very close and exciting one and if the Town want to be contenders they need to win the vast majority of their home games and hope to pick up many valuable results on the road.
Town Supporters are wondering what the starting eleven will be on Saturday night next. Jack Brady seems to be the Town's no 1 as he has really taken the jersey since he replaced Paul Skinner last season. Paul has joined our First Division rivals Drogheda United.
The defence looks like comprising Shane Elworthy, Adam O'Connor, Daniel O'Reilly and Alan Kehoe or Tristan Noack Hofmann.
Club captain Dean Zambra and Sam Verdon look like the central midfield partnership with the former Bray player Zambra expected to make his mark in that area.
Peter Hopkins should hold his position on the right after some very good performances since joining the club in the July window. The very experienced Darren Meenan, who has many winners medals from his time with Dundalk, should bring the younger and some inexperienced players through these vital early season games.
Chris Mulhall is expected to play up front with Shane O'Connor also expected to be in the starting eleven. Karl Chambers, who had some great games last season, seems to be the unlucky one to lose out in quite a few of the games as he has really done well since moving up from the Town's under 19s squad.
The loss of the experienced Noel Haverty, Rhys Gorman, Don Cowan, Kevin O'Connor and Davy O'Sullivan will be a big challenge for the younger players who need to make a significant impact. This new look Longford town team are capable of registering a lot of positive results this season and we hope to be pushing for promotion to the Premier Division, starting with a win over Cobh.
This pre season the Town didn't win any games against Premier Division opposition but they acquitted themselves well against the highly rated sides from the top flight.
The final pre season game against Premier Division opponents was against Limerick a couple of weeks ago and lost 1-0 but one would have to say that the Town were well capable of causing an upset.
New Limerick manager and former player Tommy Barrett has assembled a decent squad and he had a great start last Saturday night at the Showgrounds when Limerick came away with a one nil victory against a very highly rated and experienced Sligo side.
The Town had a few victories over Leinster Senior League sides but as stated these games are really only warm up fixtures, allowing the manager the opportunity to try out different combinations.
Cobh won three out of the four league fixtures last season
Last season the Town had a very tough start with Cobh scoring a 3-1 victory at City Calling Stadium in Round 2.
Two goals in a three minute spell on the hour mark from Caulfield and Mylod put the visitors in total control and McNamara put the game out of doubt for Cobh as he netted in the 80th minute.
The Town, who got a consolation goal in injury time, went into that game minus the injured Noel Haverty, Don Cowan and Davy O'Sullivan and also lost Rhys Gorman during the game through injury. Of the team that started that day and the subs used only Daniel O'Reilly and Dean Zambra are still with the club.
The second meeting between the clubs at St Colman's Park ended in another victory for Stephen Henderson's men with the home side winning 2-0.
McNamara opened the scoring in the 64th minute and two minutes later the game was as good as over when Fleming punished a hesitant Town defence for the second Cobh goal.
The third meeting between the clubs was at the City Calling stadium and it took place in mid June. This was to be the Town's only victory over Henderson’s team. The game ended 2-1 in favour of the Town with both goals coming at the end of each half.
Karl Chambers scored for the Town in the last minute of the first half and that looked like being the matchwinner but the visitors had other ideas and Swords equalised in the 84th minute.
Jake Kelly was the Town hero three minutes into injury time when he blasted to the net past former Town keeper Paul Hunt for a very hard earned three points.
The final meeting between the clubs in early August ended in another home victory for Cobh. Goals from Cian Leonard (27 mins) and Darren Murphy (66 mins) gave Cobh nine points against the Town last season.
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