Match Preview by Tony Ghee
The RTE cameras will be rolling into the City Calling Stadium this Friday night as Longford Town take on Cork City in a high profile Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup Quarter-Final clash.
This is the third successive season that Longford Town and Cork City collide in Irish soccer’s blue riband competition at the Midlanders home venue, with Cork winning the previous two encounters by four goals to one.
In 2016, Kevin O’Connor, Sean Maguire, Karl Sheppard, and Chiedozie Ogbene all rattled the Town net with Eddie Dsane bagging the Longford goal.
Last year’s Double Champions Cork also came out on top in last year’s clash as they again cruised to a four-one victory, a second-half brace from Karl Sheppard along with first-half goals from Kieran Sadlier and Jimmy Keohane sealed the win. The Town consolation strike was credited as a Robbie Williams own goal.
Only six of the Town players who featured in last year’s tie are still with the ‘Red & Black’. Tristan Noack-Hofmann, Daniel O’Reilly, Peter Hopkins, Sam Verdon and Dean Zambra all started while Karl Chambers was on the bench.
Of those six, Verdon will miss the game through injury and Centre-half O’Reilly is suspended but the other four will start the big match. Dean Byrne and Jamie Hollywood are also out injured for the home side.
En route to the last eight, Cork defeated non-league Home Farm five-one in Whitehall with Ronan Coughlan (twice), Barry McNamee, Kieran Sadlier, and former Longford player Josh O’Hanlon all on the mark.
In the last sixteen, John Caulfield’s rebel army beat another non-league side, Maynooth University Town, at Turners Cross as Sadlier, O’Hanlon, and Coughlan all hit the target for the second consecutive game with Aaron Barry getting the other goal in a four-nil triumph.
Longford Town’s progression to the last eight began with a surprise one-nil victory away to Premier Division Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds as Jamie Hollywood was the match winner.
In the last sixteen, a ninth minute penalty converted by Dylan McGlade and a seventy-second minute strike from O’Reilly knocked first division rivals Shelbourne out of the cup on a two-nil score-line.
The Town and Cork City also met in the 2007 FAI Cup Final at the RDS when Denis Behan scored the only goal to crown the Leesiders as champions.
However, the Town did knock Cork out of the FAI Cup at the second round stage in 2006 with a two-one home victory, as Dessie Baker and a Danny O’Connor thunderbolt sent the Longford fans into ecstasy.
Cork will be looking to bounce back from last week’s shock two-one home defeat at Turners Cross which handed the initiative to Dundalk in the race for the Premier Division title.
Longford Town’s impressive four-one home win over Cabinteely last Saturday night has propelled them into the promotion play-off places in the first division with just two rounds of matches remaining.
Although the league is the bigger priority, a shock cup giant killing act over hot favourites Cork would be the perfect boost ahead of the following week’s crunch league meeting away to Drogheda United.
Friday’s game kicks-off at 7.30pm with Kane’s Travel providing two free shuttle buses to the City Calling Stadium from the Longford Arms Hotel at half past six and seven o’clock, and returning to the Arms Hotel after the match.