Player Interview

Interview with Town captain, Dean Zambra

Sat Feb 17th 2018

Interview by James Donnelly

James Donnelly sat down with Dean Zambra before Longford Towns final pre-season game v Newbridge tonight to get this thoughts before the league resumes next week for the 2018 season.

So Dean, how do you feel pre season has gone for the team and personally for yourself?

“I think it’s gone well. We were competitive against all the premier division teams and had some big wins too. Neale has balanced the minutes for everyone during the games so I think we are all up to a good fitness level now and ready for the first game.”

If you look around the first division this year, teams like Galway and Finn Harps have brought in some decent players and assembled strong squads; what do you think of LTFC’s new signings and how the team will compare?

“I see a few teams being very similar with no clear favourite. Neale has been able to add a lot of his ‘type’ of player this season to build on his signings from last year so I think we’re set up to be strong and compete with anyone.”

You’ve been named captain for the season, how do you feel about that and what do you hope to bring to the role?

“I did it last season when Kevin O’Connor was injured and enjoyed the role so I’m happy to have an opportunity to do so again this year. I’m hoping to be a good influence on our young players and to bring the managers message onto the pitch. I’m an experienced player now so it will be up to to me and the other senior players to lead the squad right way.”

Finally, what are your hopes for the 2018 season for yourself and the club?

“I hope to have a good year personally. I played a lot of games last year and I’d like to continue that this year and chip in with some more goals and assists also. For the team, we are working towards promotion and extended cup runs…I hope we can get promoted as it’s our main goal as a squad.

PLAYER INTERVIEW: A chat with our midfielder, Peter Hopkins

Thu Feb 1st 2018

Interview by Andrew Dempsey

Joining the club on the League of Ireland summer deadline day back in July of 2017, Peter Hopkins has impressed many supporters in his brief, yet effective, stint at the City Calling Stadium.

Prior to Tuesday’s pre-season friendly defeat to Bohemians at the AUL Complex, the former Sheriff YC and St Patrick’s Athletic star sat down with reporter Andrew Dempsey where the Dubliner spoke ahead of an exciting 2018 season in store whilst looking back on some memorable moments during his time donning the Red and Black of De Town.

Joining the club alongside the duo of Cian Byrne and Alan Kehoe on the League of Ireland’s own version of Deadline Day, who have both re-signed for the club this season, Hopkins looks back fondly on his time at the club so far despite struggling with a recurring injury which put a halt to him being able to put any real momentum together.

“It’s been great. There’s been ups and downs if you get me. When I signed it was great, signing for Longford, which I’ve been working hard for. Then I got an injury after the Sligo game and it was something that kept on repeating and repeating but we’re getting it better now and hopefully this is the week I’m back and please god everything will be good, and I’ll be feeling better. It’s been a positive move since I’ve been here and thank god, I’ve got a good team around me like the manager and physios that support me telling me that things will get better. Definitely it’s been great so far for me at the club.”

Unsurprisingly, Peter pointed back to that magical night at home to Sligo Rovers as his favourite time whilst donning the Red and Black of Longford Town so far.

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“The game we played against Sligo Rovers down at the City Calling Stadium in the FAI Cup would have to be that. It was probably one of the best moments of my life when I scored! It was only my first proper start for Longford and we beat them 4-2. I scored the goal in extra time and it was magical. Even just to beat them (Sligo Rovers) because they’re a Premier Division side and all. I think it was a good win for the whole club and the team so that would definitely stand out as my highlight while at the club so far.”

Echoing many of his teammates sentiments around the Longford Town dressing room, the 22-year-old Hopkins spoke on his admiration for his new boss Neale Fenn, emphasising that the Londoners know-how and experience within the game is a vital component in making him tick as a player both on and off the field.

“Neale is an absolute pleasure to be around. He’s such a straight minded kind of manager, he knows what he wants and what he wants to get out of his players. He encourages you to make mistakes in order to improve and he’s always on your case looking to get the best out of you and being the best that you can be. The experience he has as well is an added bonus, he has 25 years worth of experience at a professional level so if its anyone I’m going to learn from its him but he’s an absolute pleasure to be around and be at the same club as each other.”

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Having joined the club from Sheriff YC who ply their trade in Junior Football, the Dublin native admitted that he did find the step-up from a more amateur set-up challenging, although not on a footballing level, but on a fitness level standpoint.

“The biggest challenge for me to be honest was really just getting back into the League of Ireland sharpness and getting back into the level of fitness required with the lads. I used to play for St Pats at under 19s level and played a few games for the first team as well, but it was all about getting back up to this level and getting back up to speed with the sharpness of the game because I know that I can play at this level. There’s a big difference between amateur and League of Ireland football and it was really down to the fitness levels required at this level. I’d know most of the lads that play at this level having played with them all my life, but the standard of play was a little bit hard coming from Sheriff to Longford Town but I’m getting there, and things are getting better!”

With the re-introduction of the Playoffs to the First Division and new ten-team format of the second tier of Irish football, Hopkins has welcomed the new change in structure saying that it only helps his teammates secure a return to the top flight.

“To be honest I think that the new league structure is good because if you don’t finish first it still gives you a chance if you finish in the top 4 to still play in the Playoff. If you don’t win the First Division, you still have a chance to show that you can go up. It also gives you chance to fix your mistakes that you might have made during the season which I think is good!”

Despite suffering defeats in the opening few games of pre-season against Shamrock Rovers, St Patricks Athletic and Bohemians respectively, the former Pat’s Under 19 star is well aware that these friendlies are unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

“I think this team we’ve got this year is a really good side. I see a lot of improvement and look, I know that we lost our opening few games of pre-season, but this is all about working and gelling together while getting to know each other better. The friendlies are there for us to be making mistakes.”

Personally at least, Hopkins is hoping to have an injury free season at the City Calling Stadium while at the same time improving his overall game both on and off the pitch.

“Personally, my goal this year is to keep myself in top fitness and basically to keep on watching injury and making more improvements to my game both technically and professionally. Coming from Sheriff there isn’t a lot you’d know from Sheriff coming up to the League of Ireland because its so different. It’s a lot more professional and there’s a lot of more hard work required and that’s been something I’ve been looking to work on as I have been working really hard to be the best I can be at this level.”

Finally, with a loud and clear message from the Longford Town dressing room, Hopkins, along with his teammates, knows that promotion back to the Premier Division at the second time of asking is the aim at the Strokestown Road Venue for 2018.

“The goal collectively is that we want to get promoted automatically. We don’t want to be fighting in the playoffs at the end of the season. I believe that we can get promoted automatically but I think that its going to take a little bit of time for us to gel together as a team since there is a lot of new players but once we do, I think we can go on and win the league or come in the top playoff place.”

Interview with our new signing, Chris Mulhall

Wed Nov 22nd 2017


Having swapped United Park for the City Calling Stadium last week, Chris Mulhall got talking on the phone with Andrew Dempsey for, where the former Limerick FC man was discussing his move to De Town, his hopes for the season ahead and his thoughts on the new structure of the First Division in 2018.

Speaking on why he decided to join Longford Town, Mulhall revealed that he was quite close to joining up with Neale Fenn and Longford Town during the summer transfer window when he made the decision to part ways with Limerick in July.  He also added that Fenn’s footballing philosophy played a role in his decision.

“I was close to signing for the club when I was looking to get out of Limerick. Neale rang me in the summer transfer window and it was close to happening then. I’ve heard good things about Neale’s football and how he likes to play, and I think that football is probably the best for me.”

“The only reason I didn’t join in the summer was that I wanted to stay in the premier at the time and try to get myself a few goals and what not. The challenge at Drogheda was to stay clear of relegation, and I saw that as a challenge!”

The former UCD, Shelbourne, Shamrock Rovers, Limerick and most recently Drogheda United man then got talking on how he was convinced by Town boss Neale Fenn to play for the FAI Cup Winners of ‘03 and ’04.

“Neale was always very close to signing me and the second time he rang I had a chat with him, met him twice and yeah, he convinced me. The team he’s trying to put together seems like a good one and we’ve got every chance in getting promoted.”

Undoubtedly, Mulhall said that he is keen to establish a strong relationship with the Longford Town supporters, akin to the strong bond he established with the Limerick FC fans while at the Markets Field.

“Yeah without doubt, any support of mine has been really appreciative of my hard work. They’ll always get that out of me and luckily enough down in Limerick it all came together, scoring a lot of goals and winning trophies. As a result, I had great relationship with the Limerick fans and still do to this day. Yeah definitely if we can get the fans on side. I’m a player that will work hard and it will be definitely a big aim of mine to get the fans on side myself.”

Mulhall, no stranger to gaining promotion from the First Division, having achieved the feat with no less than three clubs, has said that he is looking to help Neale Fenn and Longford Town secure Premier Division football at the City Calling Stadium for the 2019 campaign.

“That’s exactly it, that’s the reason I’m going here! As I said talking with Neale about the players that he’s trying to bring in, and the players that are already signed back, he’s got work done nice and early.”

“We’d like to think that when we get back in January that the squad will be nearly finalised. I’m not saying that we’re going to have a head start on teams but if you can get your squad in nice and early you can build for the pre-season.”

“It’s only six weeks long and the team needs to know exactly what they want to do ahead of the start of the season. So hopefully we get a good start and hopefully we’ll be in the mix for promotion for the end of the season.”

14 March 2014; UCD’s Chris Mulhall, left, celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal with team-mate Tomas Boyle. Airtricity League Premier Division, St Patrick’s Athletic v UCD, Richmond Park, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Finally, the Birmingham-born Mulhall revealed his thoughts on how he thinks the newly-structured First Division will play out next season, saying that he thinks it will be a more competitive spectacle than the previous two seasons.

“Last time I was in the First Division (with Limerick) there was only 7 I think so it wasn’t very good. Every 6/7 weeks you’re back around playing the same team. The 10 team (league) will definitely suit the First Division with the games being a lot more competitive. Obviously the three coming down and the teams that were already in it from last year will make it very competitive.”

“But, look it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to. The last two years in the First Division, Limerick the team who I was involved with were far too strong for it and Waterford were probably the same last year. So, this year I would expect it to be a little bit closer with 4 or 5 teams fighting it out.”

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