A large Longford Town support headed down to Athlone on Friday night last full of great expectations. The heavy rain lodged on the sodden pitch and at times, down to the left of the stand, it looked like we were playing water polo with the players splashing and sloshing on an Irish summer's evening. Keith Quinn had an early chance of putting us ahead but his shot just whizzed wide. Sadly, that was about as good as it got for us. Within ten minutes of kick off, the hosts were ahead with a clever lob which left Bennion totally stranded.
For many games during the first half of the season, the Town made a habit of coming from behind. But as this game wore on, it was really difficult to see where our scoring chances would come from. Sully was marked like a leech and never got any momentum going. At other times we over elaborated and with some wayward passing, it looked like a damp night was going to get even damper.
Even the appearance of a perfectly formed double rainbow and two locals with a provocative banner, failed to lift spirits. Section O sang their hearts out, but even their melodies seemed to fall on deaf ears. Throughout the game, Athlone looked the more organised and were first to every ball. Athlone doubled their advantage from a penalty but despite the fact that there were still thirty minutes remaining, very few among the travelling support held out any hope of a comeback. The refereee was bad for both sides but after Mark Salmon was stretchered off following a bad tackle and the free was awarded against us, it makes you wonder about standards.
But we certainly can't blame the ref for our two nil defeat. Some say the hosts were “hungrier”. That's just a nice word for “better”. At least we went home, still leading the league by six points but it could have been so much better.
MID SEASON BREAK
We break now for two weeks which will give us plenty of time to ponder and re group. Last season, we also went into the break leading the league and on the resumption, just fell apart. Athlone are now in second place and even Waterford have climbed to fourth. Mervue and Finn Harps have slipped a bit also and with Salthill nabbing three valuable points, the scene is set for a very interesting second half to the season. All teams are experiencing financial difficulties, yet all will be hoping to beef up their squads. We have a few vacancies ourselves which hopefully, we can fill.
But if we finish the second half in the same position, then Section O can sing all winter long.
SALTHILL DEVON NEXT
June 28th is our next outing when we head west to face Salthill Devon. It's a while away yet but contact Liam on 087 6141926 if you're interested in travelling by Supporters' Club bus. It was against Salthill in our first game of the season that Sully burst onto the scene with his stunning hat trick. Can lightning strike twice? Here's hoping.
JUNE PLAYER OF THE MONTH
With the Salthill game being the final one of the month, don't forget to nominate your player of the month afterwards. As usual you can text your nomination, along with your own name to 087 9896269. The June award is being sponsored by the Turner family in memory of our late chairman, Brendan. The trophy will be presented by his family at our first home game in July.
The Supporters' Club would like to extend its deepest sympathy to the family of Robbie Shaw who died unexpectedly last week. Robbie was a LTFC season ticket holder and a very generous sponsor also. Apart from being a master mechanic, his interests were wide and varied, from stamp collecting and HAM radios to soccer, table tennis and golf. Robbie was well known for his wide smile and generous heart and honesty. Many spoke about his deep wisdom and intelligence but he was much more than a deep thinker. He loved to work whether on the bog, in the garden or in his busy garage, Robbie didn't know what it was to be idle. In recent years along with Noline, his dear wife, he developed a soft spot for the Canary Islands but he always loved coming home to his beloved family and friends in Longford. Sadly Longford has lost one of its genuine, decent, sound characters.
To his wife Noline, and family we extend our deepest sympathy. Until we meet again “brother”.