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City Calling Stadium hosts UEFA U17 European Finals

Sat May 11th 2019

Article by James Donnelly


A fantastic week for Longford Town Football club has come to an end. And with the end of the week, it brings an end to the City Calling Stadium hosting four games in the UEFA U17 European Championship Finals.

It was a tremendous honour for the club and City Calling Stadium to be chosen as one of the host venues for such a high profile and prestigous tournament. Having won pitch of the year for 2018, the selection of the facilities on the Strokestown Road was like another award in itself for the club. Years of hard work was being recognised.

The busy bees from UEFA and the FAI arrived into Longford early on Friday 3rd May to begin their work. But the work had already begun long before that for Longford Town FC and the club’s many volunteers and officers as they expertly brought the City Calling Stadium up to an even higher standard than it already was. Fresh paint, new walls and extra electrics were just a number of upgrades the LTFC work-horses installed to accommodate UEFA and the FAI. Scaffolding was put in place for TV crews who would be live streaming across Europe. There was rehearsals, even pre-rehearsals! Many of the LTFC staff were there a good 4 or 5 hours before kick off. There was an even more professional feel to the ground than usual and that was complimented by the media, international supporters and foreign delegates who turned up for the opener between England and France.

[caption id="attachment_21291" align="aligncenter" width="620"] City Calling looked sublime on the opening day of the tournament. Pic: Tiernan Dolan[/caption]

The local LTFC supporters and the new supporters to the ground began to fill into the stadium, a good hour or so before the game. National media, journalists and photographers began to arrive in their droves. There was accreditation checked, bibs given out, and tickets picked up. There was a huge sense of anticipation as we edged closer to the kick off time. It wasn’t long before the two teams emerged from the tunnel to UEFA music and a huge roar and round of applause. The Elite of Youth Football in Europe had arrived in Longford.

[caption id="attachment_21293" align="aligncenter" width="583"] The media swarmed on City Calling Stadium. Pic: Tiernan Dolan[/caption]

Theo Zidane, son of Zinedine…yes that Zinedine, was a major attraction for the fans as kids and adults alike rushed to try and get an autograph. There was whispers throughout the City Calling that his famous Da might make an appearance in the midlands but it wasn’t to be! As the French and English national anthems blasted out over the PA speakers, I looked up to the full stand and took it all in. Two of Europes top sides were playing in a tournament in Longford. What a moment. The players launched a number of footballs into the stand, much to the delight of all the children and the match began. A decent game between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw. The physicality and speed of the encounter entertained the 1500+ in attendance and left the spectators happy and looking forward to the rest of the matches in the following days. The English FA presented the club with a small gift of thanks before they left which I thought was a nice touch.

UEFA and the FAI seemed extremely pleased with how smoothly things went on the opening day at the home of the Red and Black. De Town’s facilities were complimented and it was noted how helpful the volunteers and stewards were. I was told we were also the first stadium to hand out a few team sheets! Multiple scouts from big European clubs had informed me that they had not received a team sheet in Tolka earlier that day!

[caption id="attachment_21294" align="aligncenter" width="661"] The French National team during the playing of their national anthem. Pic: Tiernan Dolan[/caption]

European heavies Belgium arrived at the City Calling Stadium on the Monday to take on Greece with an earlier kick of 5PM. Scouts quickly informed me that Belgium’s number 11, Doku, was the one to watch. Fans, press and VIP’s began to filter in once again as De Town hosted their second big night in the tournament. The night couldn’t have went better as Belgium cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win. Supporters were impressed by the style of play the Belgians produced and many worried what they had in the tank for their match against Ireland! There were brilliant scenes after the final whistle as the Belgian players interacted with supporters, young and old. Club Photographer Tiernan Dolan was on hand as always, to capture the wonderful moments and in doing so, shot a brilliant image of Doku holding up a Longford Town scarf. A picture for the archive if the young man goes on to bigger and better things. The second night was over and what an occasion it was.

On the Tuesday, we welcomed another giant in Italy as they took on Austria. The fact that the bank holiday weekend was over along with some overcast weather didn’t turn the crowds off and another sizeable audience made their way into the stadium. Faces of joy and laughter greeted the teams as they made their way onto the grass. A lot must be said for Seamus Murray and his team for how they’ve kept the turf of the City Calling Stadium in such pristine condition during the tournament. You can see why it was awarded pitch of the year. It’s the best pitch out of all the grounds used for the tournament and it’s just a pity that there will be no quarter finals played on it. The Italians picked up the victory in a game that they never truly looked like losing. Both teams had plenty of nice things to say about the CCS and its staff and the Austrians in particular praised the pitch after the game, even in their disappointment of their defeat.

[caption id="attachment_21295" align="aligncenter" width="598"] Action shot from Belgium v Greece Pic: Tiernan Dolan[/caption]

There was a buzz about the place as more and more new faces sampled what the club had to offer. The shop sold out, Brendan Finnegan had his hands full in the clubhouse and yet, the stadium staff never let their standards slip even when rushed off their feet. Credit must go to them!

The final game brought the fancy footwork of the Portuguese to face off with the warriors from Iceland. An intriguing match up on paper as both teams needed to win to progress. A certain Eidur Gudjohnsen and his family made their way into the stand and word soon got around that there was a Premier League, La Liga and Champions League winner at the home of Longford Town FC. Eidur’s son is a major figure in the Iceland team and was named in the starting lineup. He happily posed for photos until the game began and didn’t refuse anybody aftetr the final whistle either. It turned out to be the best game of the lot. A 4-2 victory for Portugal saw them progress with Iceland crashing out. The Portuguese national TV crew were on hand to capture the scenes as the team and their loud and sizeable support celebrated after the game. Unfortunately for Iceland, two errors from their young keeper cost them in the end but they can hold their heads up high as they gave it their all and certainly impressed those in attendance. The club presented Eidur with a Town jersey after the game which he appreciated. I told him he was probably the most famous player to ever step foot in the ground…after Keith Gillespie of course!

At half time during the game, Christophe von Wattenwyl, UEFA Project Leader, presented the club with a beatiful plaque as a thank you and in recognition of hosting the games. It is a beautiful piece and will stand proudly in the clubhouse as another great bit of history in the club. Christophe spoke of his fondness for the friendliness of the Longford people and mentioned how exceptional everything was run at the City Calling Stadium. He finished off his speech by suggesting the staff head to the Longford Arms to enjoy a well deserved drink! Michael Farrell, Stadium Controller for LTFC, accepted the award on the clubs behalf. Michael insisted it was an honour and privilege for the club to be chosen by UEFA to host the games and that it was a momentous occassion in the clubs history and for everyone involved.

[caption id="attachment_21297" align="aligncenter" width="681"] Pic: Tiernan Dolan[/caption]

And that was that. A fantastic week of football, friendship and recognition came to an end, at least in UEFA competitions in Longford! The volunteers, staff, delegates, helpers, etc all contributed hugely to what was a memorable occasion for Longford Town FC and the locality in general. There was lots of running around, stressful times, little mistakes, crazy moments (like the referees turning up late to the opening game because the chauffuer brought them to Moate!) but the club and everyone involved truly did themselves proud.

But for Longford Town, the football and the work never stops. We play Cabinteely FC tonight in a top of the table clash. We’re unbeaten in the league and sit in first place. We’d love to see all the supporters from the week gone by, come out to the City Calling Stadium once again and this time to cheer on the famous Red and Black. Trust us, it’s great supporting national teams…but it’s even better cheering on your own club! Kick off is at 7.30pm. Nothing beats live football.

C’mon De Town!

For more images from the tournament, check out www.facebook.com/ltfc.ie



Photos from Longford Town’s victory over Limerick at the City Calling

Sat Apr 27th 2019

Pictures and words by Tiernan Dolan

Dean Byrne’s 74th minute screamer of a goal was enough for all three valuable points in tonight’s tough encounter with Limerick.

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Lee Steacy’s penalty save proved crucial in tonight’s win…..and chalked up another clean sheet.

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A few yellow cards and a red were flashed by a busy ref in a game which saw the red and black left black and blue.

[gallery link="file" ids="20959,20960,20961"]

Some more pics from tonight’s clash.

[gallery link="file" ids="20962,20963,20964,20965,20966,20967,20968,20969,20970"]

The clash of the keepers….an amazing scene in the final minute when Limerick’s keeper Jack Brady took on De Town’s Lee Steacy……Lee beat the Shannonsider.

[gallery link="file" ids="20974,20971,20973,20972"]

Irish international star Stephanie Roache was a huge and popular hit with the Killoe girls U10 team who won the indoor soccer community games Leinster final today. The girls met Stephanie at tonight’s game.Meanwhile the Killoe U10 boys strutted their stuff at half time in a very entertaining game. Great to see so many from Killoe at tonight’s game.

[gallery link="file" ids="20975,20976,20978,20977"]

And where would we be without our mighty and loyal supporters, young and not so young as well as our incredible hard working volunteers. But really, we could do with many more supporters coming out to support this talented bunch of players.

[gallery link="file" ids="20979,20980,20981,20982,20983,20984,20985,20986,20987"]

Pictures from last night’s superb home 2-0 victory against Bray Wanderers

Sun Apr 14th 2019

Pictures by Tiernan Dolan

Goal no. 1 for de Town tonight, Michael McDonnell doing the business.

[gallery link="file" ids="20797,20794,20795,20796"]

Peter Hopkins fired in goal no. 2 to secure all three valuable points on what was a bitterly cold night but a heart warming performance.

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This was a spirited and classy display by De Town who go top of the table tonight. Well deserved too.

[gallery link="file" ids="20803,20804,20805,20806,20807,20808,20809,20810,20811,20812,20813,20814"]

The players salute the crowd and we salute the players…thanks lads for a wonderful night’s entertainment.

[gallery link="file" ids="20815,20816,20817,20818,20819,20820,20821"]

Talk To De Town….

Wed Feb 27th 2019

Longford Town FC visited local national schools today ahead the first home game of the 2019 season on Saturday night when Drogheda United come to the City Calling Stadium.

First team Manager, Neale Fenn, Assistant Manager, Daire Doyle, Goalkeeper Coach, Ger Mooney, local star Aodh Dervin, Kitman, Ian Maher and Media & Marketing Manager, James Donnelly, visited a number of local schools today as part of our “Talk to De Town” initiative in a bid to promote support for the club and the team for the 2019 season.

The lads spoke about the Club Academy, the pathway to the first team, City Calling Stadium, the big game on Saturday and they also handed out over 200 concession tickets to the children.

They also took part in a very fun Q&A with everyone. Aodh Dervin explained to the children what it took to get to the level he is playing at and explained while it can be very tough and hard work, it’s important to always have fun and enjoy yourself! Neale Fenn explained the importance of practice in developing their skills, Ger Mooney spoke about how to become a better goalkeeper, Daire Doyle spoke about his time playing for Longford Town, Ian Maher explained his job to the children and James Donnelly was only delighted to talk about videoing matches and the clubs YouTube channel! A great time was had by all.

A big thank you to the schools, staff and students who allowed the club to visit and thanks to Caroline Maher for helping to orgranize it. We hope to visit even more schools in the coming months.

[gallery link="file" ids="20523,20524,20525,20526,20527,20528"]

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