LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE
On what was probably the best day of the summer in Longford, we finished it off with a heart warming three points. It was an important win as both Limerick and Waterford had won on Friday night which meant that our two nil win against Wexford Youths moved us back to second place in the league.
The first half was flat enough, though the ref did his best to keep the game flowing. In truth the Town were struggling to stamp any authority on proceedings. With Wexford Youths confident and competent at the back, they seemed to be well able to withstand any threat thrown at them. Wilo Mc Donagh, on 28 minutes, had the best chance of the half when he found himself through on goal and with plenty of time. However he shot tamely and straight at the Wexford keeper.
Thankfully we hadn't to wait long in the second half before we eventually got the breakthrough. A good move saw Griffith's cross headed back by Thomas Crawley and, August's player of the month Karl Bermingham thumped it to the net with a firm header. Less than five minutes later Crawley brought a great save from the visitors keeper. But then ten minutes after that and it was Wexford's danger man Furlong who had Hyland working hard in the Town goal. If chances were few and far between in the first half, the second half was in complete contrast. Recent Town signing Aidan Collins went close only to be denied by the keeper and shortly after that again, the industrious Karl Bermingham was a whisker wide. With just less than twenty minutes remaining Karl Birmingham was again involved when he flicked on to Thomas Crawley who cooly and cheekily placed the ball between the keepers legs to make it number two. Wilo Mc Donagh thought he had made up for his earlier tame effort when he had the ball in the net from close range only to see the lineswoman raise her flag for an offside. Though two up, the visitors refused to throw in the towel and when their deflected free kick just flew over with Hyland stranded, there was an audible sigh of relief in the stand. That sigh of relief was soon changed to cheer of delight with the welcome introduction of Austin Skelly, our latest secret weapon. Straight away you could see the Wexford back four in panic mode as he controlled, swiveled and fired off a rocket within a second. Alan Kirby also came close with yet an other rocket.
But it remained at two nil which sent us home happy and in confident mood for our next tough away assignment against Waterford in two weeks. Apart from the two goals and the three points, every one was pleased with the much improved performance in the second half and if this can be maintained till the end of the season, we'll all be happy. But if we could have an other week or two of summer sunshine and no rain, then we'd really be happy.
This week-end is an other Cup week-end so we have no game. Oddly enough neither have any of our close opposition. So for all teams it'll be an other chance to regroup and get some injuries sorted. We lost two players in training during the last break and it must have been very hard for Gary Shaw to watch Saturday night's win from the stand with plaster up to his knee. We have only four games left until the end of the season, away to Waterford on Friday,September 21st; home then to SD Galway 29th Sept., and what could be a massive game, our last home to Limerick on Saturday October 6th with our final game away to Finn Harps on Oct 13th. That will the last game of the league proper but with possible play offs, who knows where or when it will really end.
JOHNNY'S CHARITY CYCLE
Many people were asking about the efficient Johnny Nevin being absent from behind the counter at half time on Saturday night last. Well, Johnny had a better excuse than usual this time. He had completed a 100km charity cycle from Galway earlier in the day and was taking a well earned warm down. The cycle was in memory of former Monaghan, Athlone and Longford Town player Shane Brennan and in aid of GOAL. So far, the fund has raised in excess of a staggering €70,000 which helps fund GOAL's street children's projects in Sierra Leone, Nairobi and hopefully soon, Calcutta.If you'd like to sponsor Johnny and think you were too late, he'll still gladly accept any spare euro you might have. You can't miss him 'round the town, he's the happy, smiling taxi driver.
Fair play to the week day staff who have put in a tremendous effort all summer in keeping Flancare spotless and tidy. No wonder visiting teams' supporters are green with envy when they see our facilities and how well they're maintained. Last week, the hard working lads took full advantage of the dry, warm and sunny conditions and were painting like Michelangelo all week long. Even the rubbish bins have been hidden away behind some very natty red and black railings. Next up (literally) will be the nets behind the far goal which will help keep the games flowing.
We often rightly complain about the poor coverage our League gets in the national media. RTE sometimes can't win though. They spent a fair few euro in transmitting the bore of game from Astana, Kazakhstan last week that didn't even include replay action. But then some would say, it was hard to see anything that was worth replaying with a number of Town fans admitting to falling asleep during the game. I wonder what the two lads who made the mammoth trip from Ballinalee thought of Trap's efforts. But if we think we're hard done by, by the lack of RTE's coverage, the incredibly inspirational athletes at the Paralympics must really be scratching their collective heads at the poor showing of our national TV station.
PLAYER OF THE MONTH / KARL BERMINGHAM
Congratulations to Karl Bermingham who was presented with his award by Brendan Turner on Saturday night for being player of the month for August. The award is of course in memory of John Donlon. If there were any doubters as to the merits of his win, then his display later on in the game would have blown them away. He had a terrific performance, scoring one and being involved in the second. With just four games proper left, it's now time to be considering your Player of the Season which will be an intriguing task this season.
Finally a word on the incredibly dedicated followers of Wexford Youths. At kick off it looked like not one single fan had travelled up from the sunny south east. Then two lads along with their girlfriends arrived in the stand. Even before they took their seats (which they soon abandoned to stand), you could hear them sing all over the place decked out in the outlandish pink outfits. Within seconds they had gathered a willing group around them of almost fifty youths from Wexford who were in town to play Gaelic. From then until the very end, they never stopped singing, chanting or beating their drum and all in great humour. They looked after the youngsters, taught them a few words and had the best of innocent craic. No beer, no bad language, just pure fun.When their heroes went two down, they continued their chanting, singing and drumming. And even as they headed to their car, with a three hour trip ahead, they continued to chant and dance.....and clutching at straws their song now barely audible was about the fact that their's was the prettiest jerseys in the league.......now that's real support. Well done to the Pied Pipers of Wexford Youths.