TALK OF THE TOWN | 📖🔴⚫️
Peter Hopkins is on the cover of this weeks issue along with an in depth interview with Peter inside by Andrew Dempsey. 🙌
Also in this weeks issue ⤵️
✔️ Hear from Manager Neale Fenn
✔️ Captain Dean Zambras weekly feature
✔️ Opposition report by Kieran Burke
✔️ James Donnelly’s Editorial
✔️ and much more!
Don’t forget to pick up your copy on Saturday when we take on Bray Wanderers at the City Calling Stadium. Kick off is at 7:30pm! 🕢
cover image: Barry Masterson Art
Interview by Andrew Dempsey
(Originally published in this weekend’s Talk Of The Town match programme)
Having joined the club from Shelbourne in the summer transfer window to ease Neale Fenn’s attacking woes, new Town signing Jamie Doyle burst onto the Longford Town scene with bang following a superb brace at Éamonn Deacy Park last week.
With that goal-scoring monkey now officially off his back, Jamie spoke with the Longford Town FC official matchday programme ahead of the tantalising home clash against Shelbourne in the 2nd Round of the FAI Cup on Saturday evening at the City Calling Stadium.
With news of his signature coming just days after De Town’s superb win over UCD at the Belfield Bowl, the 24-year-old target man revealed that he has enjoyed every minute of his spell at the club to date since his move from our upcoming opponents Shelbourne at the beginning of the summer transfer window.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at the club so far! The lads have all made me feel very welcome since I came in on July 1st. I knew quite a few of the lads coming into the club anyway before I came to the City Calling Stadium and knowing the assistant manager Daire Doyle was a bonus as well, so I’ve settled into the group very well!”
While knowing a fair few of his new teammates prior to his arrival at the City Calling Stadium, Jamie wasn’t all too familiar with many of his new teammates as he walked into the dressing room for the very first time.[caption id="attachment_18960" align="aligncenter" width="348"] Jamie Doyle has settled in well for De Town so far. (Picture: Longford Leader/Syl Healy)[/caption]
However, getting to build relationships with his new partners in crime wasn’t that much of an issue as we have seen in recent games given the superb on-pitch connection between Doyle and the creative forces empowering the Town first-team, which Jamie remarked on.
“Yeah the lads have been great to me so far! I’ve never played with Darren Meenan or Dylan McGlade before and I seem to have struck up a good partnership with the lads already during the last couple of games alongside Sam Verdon, so it’s been enjoyable for myself since I came in. I’m a close friend of Daniel O’Reilly from before so I suppose that helps a bit!”
Given the contrast in footballing styles between Neale Fenn’s Longford Town and Owen Heary’s Shelbourne, it would be easy to suggest that the former UCD hitman would struggle to adapt to his new style of play at the City Calling Stadium.
Despite this, the ex-Leixlip United striker noted that he has found the transition into Neale’s side as rather seamless given his experience under a possession-based system at UCD back in 2015.
“What Neale is implementing here at the minute suits me right down to the ground. I know at Shels I was playing under a much different playing style, but I was at UCD a few years back, so I’m well used to passing the ball around the deck. We played a similar way there a few years ago so I found it easy enough getting back into the swing of things once again!”
As mentioned previously, our new number nine announced his grand arrival when it mattered last Friday night when it mattered most against Galway United.
Along with the magnificent Dylan McGlade, the Dubliner scored a fantastic double to send De Town on their way to morale boosting win against the Tribesmen to get his Longford Town account up and running, much to his relief after a few good chances evaded him in recent games.
“I was thrilled to get my first couple of goals for the club against Galway on Friday evening. I nearly had a few against Shels not so long ago so I was itching to get a few goals under my belt. It was great to get that monkey off my back against Galway so hopefully I can keep them going in the back of the net between now and the end of the season!”
The FAI Cup will always have a special place in the heart of many a Longford Town fan. The cup wins of 2003 and 04’ are still etched in the memory of even the least interested Town supporter given the buzz and excitement it created for the county.
Comparing a cup tie to a league one is nigh on impossible, as mentioned by Doyle who relishes the freedom that a cup game brings up compared to the high-pressure nature of a normal league game where everyone is scrapping it out for points.
“In a cup game you feel as if there’s no real pressure on yourself. It’s a kind of free hit to try and get the club into the next round. In comparison to the league games, there’s no serious pressure in terms of getting back into the race for the Playoff spots so everyone plays with that bit more freedom compared to the league games really!”
Given the circumstances of our last few games against Shelbourne, it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility to suggest that there is a genuine passion within the Longford Town dressing room to finally get one over on Owen Heary’s Reds.
That sentiment was confirmed by Jamie, who feels that his new side have more than enough in the arsenal to get one over on their playoff-chasing foes.
“We’re all hungry to get this game underway on the weekend especially after what happened at Tolka Park last time we played them. The game obviously didn’t go our way with some decisions going against us. It wasn’t down to the way we played or anything, we played very well that night against Shels so hopefully we can get a few early goals and get through to the quarter finals of the cup!”
And finally, the recently recruited Dublin native had this to say to about the wonderful support that the team have received since his arrival into squad back in early July.
“The supporters have been brilliant so far! The lads over at Section O have been incredible every week. They were so noisy at Tolka that time and over in Sligo away at the Showgrounds they were very noisy as well. In Galway last week they were terrific and as a group we really appreciate them. It gives us a massive lift for the games knowing that we have so many people behind making as much noise as possible!”
Interview by Andrew Dempsey
After re-joining the club following a spell away in England with Conference North side Blyth Spartans, Dylan McGlade got talking with LTFC.ie reporter Andrew Dempsey as the former Middlesbrough prodigy discussed how his move back to the City Calling Stadium came about whilst also comparing the League of Ireland to the Non-Leagues over in England.
Having decided to re-join the Red and Black after a brief spell across the water over in England with Conference North side Blyth Spartans, McGlade revealed that his previous relationship both Neale Fenn and Daire Doyle played a key role in getting the deal over the line.
“It actually just happened when the team I was playing with in England were having some difficulties and they just said, if you’d like to leave we can facilitate that. I think Daire and Fenny caught wind of that and we just had a chat. I know the lads already, I know Daire and Fenny for a couple of years now so the opportunity that I had to work under them was something I couldn’t really let go.”
With this being the first time that Dylan has worked under both Fenn and Doyle simultaneously in a professional capacity, the 22-year-old Dubliner has explained that he has found the transition to Fenn’s footballing philosophy an easy exercise so far.
“It’s been good so far! He knows what he wants and its good to have that clearness in your instructions. Everybody knows exactly the way he wants to play, and he doesn’t shy away from how he wants to play. I’ve been coached under him for the last couple of years with his academy, so I know how he deals with things and how he works so it’s been an easy transition for me.”
Having enjoyed a six-month spell at the club last time out, the former St Patrick’s Athletic star revealed that realisation of how a big a club De Town really are stood out for him in his last stint at the City Calling Stadium.
“Probably just realising how a big a club Longford is. I mean when you come down to the City Calling Stadium. I remember the first time I came down here in 2016 with Pats away and I just couldn’t believe how big the stadium was and how professional everything looked. Even walking down to the changing rooms and just stuff like that.”
With the good times not far gone, he also revealed that Daire Doyle constantly keeps on referring to the good old days at the club when the Red and Black were pulling in back in the mid 2000’s having had a spell at the club himself.
“That was probably the main thing but Daire always talks about when he was playing for Longford and how the club were nearly getting almost 2,500 at nearly every home game and all. Obviously back when I was with Shels as well I remember Longford always had a huge following so probably that would have to be the thing that really stood out for me.”
With there being far more positivity amongst Longford Town supporters this time round compared to this time last season, the 22-year-old noted that he believes that this year’s squad feels a lot more cohesive than the side starting last season’s campaign.
“I think the big difference this year would probably have to be the cohesiveness of the team. I look at the team this year and most of the boys all know each other. The way in which we’re setting up this year is much different to last year and how Neale wants to play, and I think everyone really fits into that. As well as that, I think that we’re a lot stronger this time around in all areas of the pitch. I mean, if you look at the team, we almost have two people to play every position on the park and we didn’t really have that last year. Last year we were a bit light up front and I know this year we kind of are a bit light up front, but we have a few boys that can play up there as well as me if needs be. we have a lot more competition which always helps.”
Having played at both Non-League and League of Ireland levels in his brief playing career so far, McGlade revealed that League of Ireland football has a far superior professional feel surrounding it compared to the Non-League set-up in England.
“It’s a lot different I have to say. At Blyth we were playing in the Conference North and there are massive teams in the league such as Southport, York and Salford. Darlington are a massive team as well in there. I remember we played them last year and there were thousands at the game, it was just crazy, but the professionalism isn’t the same. I remember we came back from one of the games and the chairman came on and put two crates of beer on the bus on the way home from an away game. After the games lads would be heading down to the pubs, downing pints and all. You would never see that here! I remember one of the lads used to have a Subway pre-match, and you just don’t do that! The standard is very, very good like, I’ve played with some very, very good players and played against some very good players as well but the professionalism isn’t over there with that whereas over here you wouldn’t see that!”
Personally at least, McGlade has said that he is looking to break into a highly competitive starting eleven at Longford Town but has also noted that he feels as if there is a lot more experience this season compared to last season at the City Calling Stadium available to Neale Fenn and his backroom staff.
“First of all, I’d like to break into the first team and get a good of games under my belt. I think that’s what every player coming into a team wants to achieve. I think also, looking around, even though I’ve only been here for two weeks or so far, we look a lot more penetrating than last season and I think we’ve brought in some good experience with the likes of Darren Meenan who has won the Premier Division a few times, you look at Shane O’Connor last year getting player of the season at Waterford and getting promoted with them last time round. You look at Chris Mulhall who done the same at Limerick when he went up with them. I really think that we’ve strengthened in areas and we’ve got a lot of experience available to us and we still don’t have an old team!”
Echoing all the sentiments from the Red and Black’s dressing room, the former Malahide United and Swords Rovers starlet knows that a tilt towards the SSE Airtricity League First Division is well within reach come the end of the season at the City Calling Stadium.
“This year we’ve got to look for a promotion spot and we have to look at going for the league title. I know Neale has told all the boys that he wants to win the league outright and that’s how we’re setting up to try and do. We’re going into each game looking to win and we won’t be going into games looking to take draws even though the league will be very tough to win so I think, if we can get a good run of games and get the boys confidence up, I think there’s no reason why I don’t think we can’t go on and compete for the title.”