Tag: Ireland

City Calling Stadium hosts UEFA U17 European Finals

Sat May 11th 2019

Article by James Donnelly


A fantastic week for Longford Town Football club has come to an end. And with the end of the week, it brings an end to the City Calling Stadium hosting four games in the UEFA U17 European Championship Finals.

It was a tremendous honour for the club and City Calling Stadium to be chosen as one of the host venues for such a high profile and prestigous tournament. Having won pitch of the year for 2018, the selection of the facilities on the Strokestown Road was like another award in itself for the club. Years of hard work was being recognised.

The busy bees from UEFA and the FAI arrived into Longford early on Friday 3rd May to begin their work. But the work had already begun long before that for Longford Town FC and the club’s many volunteers and officers as they expertly brought the City Calling Stadium up to an even higher standard than it already was. Fresh paint, new walls and extra electrics were just a number of upgrades the LTFC work-horses installed to accommodate UEFA and the FAI. Scaffolding was put in place for TV crews who would be live streaming across Europe. There was rehearsals, even pre-rehearsals! Many of the LTFC staff were there a good 4 or 5 hours before kick off. There was an even more professional feel to the ground than usual and that was complimented by the media, international supporters and foreign delegates who turned up for the opener between England and France.

[caption id="attachment_21291" align="aligncenter" width="620"] City Calling looked sublime on the opening day of the tournament. Pic: Tiernan Dolan[/caption]

The local LTFC supporters and the new supporters to the ground began to fill into the stadium, a good hour or so before the game. National media, journalists and photographers began to arrive in their droves. There was accreditation checked, bibs given out, and tickets picked up. There was a huge sense of anticipation as we edged closer to the kick off time. It wasn’t long before the two teams emerged from the tunnel to UEFA music and a huge roar and round of applause. The Elite of Youth Football in Europe had arrived in Longford.

[caption id="attachment_21293" align="aligncenter" width="583"] The media swarmed on City Calling Stadium. Pic: Tiernan Dolan[/caption]

Theo Zidane, son of Zinedine…yes that Zinedine, was a major attraction for the fans as kids and adults alike rushed to try and get an autograph. There was whispers throughout the City Calling that his famous Da might make an appearance in the midlands but it wasn’t to be! As the French and English national anthems blasted out over the PA speakers, I looked up to the full stand and took it all in. Two of Europes top sides were playing in a tournament in Longford. What a moment. The players launched a number of footballs into the stand, much to the delight of all the children and the match began. A decent game between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw. The physicality and speed of the encounter entertained the 1500+ in attendance and left the spectators happy and looking forward to the rest of the matches in the following days. The English FA presented the club with a small gift of thanks before they left which I thought was a nice touch.

UEFA and the FAI seemed extremely pleased with how smoothly things went on the opening day at the home of the Red and Black. De Town’s facilities were complimented and it was noted how helpful the volunteers and stewards were. I was told we were also the first stadium to hand out a few team sheets! Multiple scouts from big European clubs had informed me that they had not received a team sheet in Tolka earlier that day!

[caption id="attachment_21294" align="aligncenter" width="661"] The French National team during the playing of their national anthem. Pic: Tiernan Dolan[/caption]

European heavies Belgium arrived at the City Calling Stadium on the Monday to take on Greece with an earlier kick of 5PM. Scouts quickly informed me that Belgium’s number 11, Doku, was the one to watch. Fans, press and VIP’s began to filter in once again as De Town hosted their second big night in the tournament. The night couldn’t have went better as Belgium cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win. Supporters were impressed by the style of play the Belgians produced and many worried what they had in the tank for their match against Ireland! There were brilliant scenes after the final whistle as the Belgian players interacted with supporters, young and old. Club Photographer Tiernan Dolan was on hand as always, to capture the wonderful moments and in doing so, shot a brilliant image of Doku holding up a Longford Town scarf. A picture for the archive if the young man goes on to bigger and better things. The second night was over and what an occasion it was.

On the Tuesday, we welcomed another giant in Italy as they took on Austria. The fact that the bank holiday weekend was over along with some overcast weather didn’t turn the crowds off and another sizeable audience made their way into the stadium. Faces of joy and laughter greeted the teams as they made their way onto the grass. A lot must be said for Seamus Murray and his team for how they’ve kept the turf of the City Calling Stadium in such pristine condition during the tournament. You can see why it was awarded pitch of the year. It’s the best pitch out of all the grounds used for the tournament and it’s just a pity that there will be no quarter finals played on it. The Italians picked up the victory in a game that they never truly looked like losing. Both teams had plenty of nice things to say about the CCS and its staff and the Austrians in particular praised the pitch after the game, even in their disappointment of their defeat.

[caption id="attachment_21295" align="aligncenter" width="598"] Action shot from Belgium v Greece Pic: Tiernan Dolan[/caption]

There was a buzz about the place as more and more new faces sampled what the club had to offer. The shop sold out, Brendan Finnegan had his hands full in the clubhouse and yet, the stadium staff never let their standards slip even when rushed off their feet. Credit must go to them!

The final game brought the fancy footwork of the Portuguese to face off with the warriors from Iceland. An intriguing match up on paper as both teams needed to win to progress. A certain Eidur Gudjohnsen and his family made their way into the stand and word soon got around that there was a Premier League, La Liga and Champions League winner at the home of Longford Town FC. Eidur’s son is a major figure in the Iceland team and was named in the starting lineup. He happily posed for photos until the game began and didn’t refuse anybody aftetr the final whistle either. It turned out to be the best game of the lot. A 4-2 victory for Portugal saw them progress with Iceland crashing out. The Portuguese national TV crew were on hand to capture the scenes as the team and their loud and sizeable support celebrated after the game. Unfortunately for Iceland, two errors from their young keeper cost them in the end but they can hold their heads up high as they gave it their all and certainly impressed those in attendance. The club presented Eidur with a Town jersey after the game which he appreciated. I told him he was probably the most famous player to ever step foot in the ground…after Keith Gillespie of course!

At half time during the game, Christophe von Wattenwyl, UEFA Project Leader, presented the club with a beatiful plaque as a thank you and in recognition of hosting the games. It is a beautiful piece and will stand proudly in the clubhouse as another great bit of history in the club. Christophe spoke of his fondness for the friendliness of the Longford people and mentioned how exceptional everything was run at the City Calling Stadium. He finished off his speech by suggesting the staff head to the Longford Arms to enjoy a well deserved drink! Michael Farrell, Stadium Controller for LTFC, accepted the award on the clubs behalf. Michael insisted it was an honour and privilege for the club to be chosen by UEFA to host the games and that it was a momentous occassion in the clubs history and for everyone involved.

[caption id="attachment_21297" align="aligncenter" width="681"] Pic: Tiernan Dolan[/caption]

And that was that. A fantastic week of football, friendship and recognition came to an end, at least in UEFA competitions in Longford! The volunteers, staff, delegates, helpers, etc all contributed hugely to what was a memorable occasion for Longford Town FC and the locality in general. There was lots of running around, stressful times, little mistakes, crazy moments (like the referees turning up late to the opening game because the chauffuer brought them to Moate!) but the club and everyone involved truly did themselves proud.

But for Longford Town, the football and the work never stops. We play Cabinteely FC tonight in a top of the table clash. We’re unbeaten in the league and sit in first place. We’d love to see all the supporters from the week gone by, come out to the City Calling Stadium once again and this time to cheer on the famous Red and Black. Trust us, it’s great supporting national teams…but it’s even better cheering on your own club! Kick off is at 7.30pm. Nothing beats live football.

C’mon De Town!

For more images from the tournament, check out www.facebook.com/ltfc.ie



MATCH REPORT: Bosnia & Herzegovina 1-3 Republic of Ireland

Wed Oct 10th 2018

EUROPEAN U19 CHAMPIONSHIPS 2019 QUALIFYING ROUND GROUP 10

Bosnia & Herzegovina v Republic Of Ireland

10/10/2018, City Calling Stadium, 3.00pm

Match Report by James Donnelly

The Republic of Ireland recorded a comfortable victory over Bosnia & Herzegovina today the City Calling Stadium. Goals from William Ferry, Troy Parrott and Adam Idah sealed the win for Tom Mohan’s side.

The visitors attacked first in the opening minute, their pacey number seven, Milan Savic shooting over from distance after cutting inside on his right foot. Bosnia & Herzegovina went close again on 5 minutes, this time from a floated free kick. Faris Zubanovic had his shot blocked by Irish centre back Lee O’Connor.

Bosnia & Herzegovina, who were the much more physical side caused problems for Ireland. The visitors could have opened the scoring on 7 minutes when Elder Sehic forced goal keeper Brian Maher to pull off a magnificent save from close range.

Ireland could have put themselves in front only 5 minutes later when a fantastic cross field ball to Glen McCauley found space out on the right wing, he pulled the ball back to Adam Idah in the box who’s powerful shot was tipped over the bar by Adnan Kanuric.

The boys in Green had another chance on 16 minutes when Adam Idah got in behind the visitors defence and volleyed from a beautifully weighted free but his effort was once again saved by Kanuric.

The visitors responded when Milan Savic cut inside onto his left and curled the ball towards the far post but his shot was saved by Maher in goal. Zubanovic almost caught the Irish napping when he flicked a backheel towards goal but Maher saved again.

Glen McCauley was causing problems down the right wing. Cross after cross came into the box but Bosnia & Herzegovina deal with the pressure.

Adam Idah went close yet again on 37 minutes when he turned his man and unleashed a low flying shot from outside the box to the right hand side but it narrowly went wide of the post much to the relief of the scrambling Kanuric.

Kanuric kept the visitors in it again with another fine save just before half time when a corner wasn’t dealt with and it fell to Conor Coventry for Ireland and he turned inside and shot across the box but Kanuric did well to leap out and gather the ball before an Irish head could get to it.

 

The second half came to life on 55 minutes when Conor Coventry, against the run of play, played a magnificent through ball in to William Ferry who blasted past Kanuric in goal top put Ireland ahead!

Bosnia & Herzegovina had a chance to equalize only moments later from a free but Savic’s effort was high over the bar.

The boys in Green went 2-0 up when Jack James was taken down in the box on 64 minutes. Troy Parrott stepped up to take the peno and cooly chipped it down the middle sending Kanuric the wrong way. Ireland were beginning to take control of the game.

Things got even better for Ireland on 73 minutes when Adam Idah finally got his goal after missing numerous opportunities in the first half. The strong forward found himself in space in the box and made no mistake, burying the ball past Kanuric in goal to put Tom Mohan’s charges in complete control.

The visitors got one back on 77 minutes when substitution Mateo Bozic’s free kick was wickedly deflected and left Maher with no chance.

They could have gotten a second back on 83 minutes when a free kick was whipped into the box but Maher did well to gather as the ball flew by bodies in the box.

The Boys in Green held out for the remainder of the game and look forward to Saturday when they take on the Faroe Islands at City Calling Stadium once again at 3.00pm.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

1. Adnan Kanuric, 3. Eldar Sehic (replaced by 13. Adis Mujkic), 4. Marko Brkic (replaced by 10. Dzani Salcin), 5. Nemanja Vjestica (replaced by 17. Dzenan Osmanovic), 6. Enio Zilic, 7. Milan Savic, 8. Stefan Santrac (replaced by 19. Mateo Bozic), 11. Faris Zubanovic (replaced by 9. Milan Sikanjc), 14. Jusuf Gazibegovic (C), 15. Igor Savic, 20. Ajdin Hasic.

Subs not used: 12. Jasmin Krsic, 2. Elvir Muminovic, 16. Haris Kotarevic, 18. Emir Sejdovic

Republic of Ireland

1. Brian Maher, 3. Jack James, 4. Lee O’Connor (C), 5. Nathan Collins, 6. Aaron Bolger, 7. Glen McCauley (replaced by 20. Ali Reghba), 8. Conor Coventry, 9. Adam Idah, 10. Troy Parrott, 11. William Ferry (replaced by 17. Barry Coffey), 12. Andrew Lyons.

Subs not used: 16. Kian Clarke, 2. Jordan Doherty, 13. Tom Gaston, 14. Richard O’Farrell, 15. Jason Knight, 18. James Clarke, 19. Jonathan Afolabi

Pictures by Tiernan Dolan

[gallery link="file" ids="19422,19423,19424,19425,19426,19427,19428,19429,19430,19431,19432,19433,19434,19435,19436,19437,19438"]

More International Games to be held at City Calling Stadium

Thu Sep 27th 2018

U19 Internationals to be held at the City Calling Stadium

Longford Town FC are pleased to announce that City Calling Stadium will play host to THREE U19 International matches in October.

On Wednesday October 10th, the Republic of Ireland will take on Bosnia/Herzegovina with a kick off time of 3.00pm.

Only 3 days later, on Saturday, October 13th, the team return to face the Faroe Islands with a kick off time of 3.00pm also.

The final game of the three takes place on the Tuesday, October 16th with Ireland taking on the might of the Netherlands with an earlier kick off time of 1.00pm.

[caption id="attachment_19349" align="aligncenter" width="657"] Longford Town’s Shane Elworthy pictured during a recent Ireland International game at the City Calling Stadium. Pic: Tiernan Dolan[/caption]

The club is delighted that the City Calling Stadium has been chosen as the venue for these fixtures and we look forward to welcoming all players, officials and supporters to Longford in October.

 

Longford Town Supporters’ Club Notes (11/09/2018)

Tue Sep 11th 2018

SPIN ‘N SPAN

Whatever about the result, the staging of the FAI Quarter Finals last Friday, was a huge success for everyone associated with Longford Town FC. Self praise, they say, is no praise but it might be the only praise we’ll get.

The pitch looked superb, the stewards were friendly and effective, the Clubhouse volunteers under the guidance of Brendan Finnegan coped admirably with the large crowd, we had a top class match programme and the stadium itself was spotless. Every thing was top class on what was an extremely busy week end for the club. Friday night saw 1,181 click through the turnstiles but the following day Saturday, we hosted an U15 game and then on Sunday we had the international stars of tomorrow in the Ireland v Wales U19 International friendly.

We may have lost the Cup game but we certainly gained many new admirers.

RED OR YELLOW?

One of the main talking talking points after the Cork game was the sending off. No one for a moment would suggest, that we could have won the game if the colour of the card was different.

However, that sending off effectively killed the game. By all accounts, the ref had a yellow card in his hand but the linesman kept calling for a red card to be brandished and the rest is sporting history.

ONWARDS

This Friday is a massive game for De Town. Beat Drogheda in their own back garden and we’re in the play offs. After we beat Sligo, they recovered and have been doing quite well since. Cork were surprisingly beaten at home by Sligo and it was Cork who upped their game afterwards (to our cost). So you don’t need a top class Junior Cert to realise where this is going. We simply have to banish Cork from our minds and concentrate on beating the Drogs. We’ve done it before and we can certainly repeat the dose. Fair play to Kieran Burke in his valiant effort to muster transport and support for this vital game.

BITS AND PIECES

On the subject of buses, those who travelled from Cork maintained that they’d have had 400 extra in the City Calling Stadium if the game had been on our usual Saturday. That’s €4,000 lost. Top marks to Kanes Travel who supplied free buses to and from the game. Fair play too to our other generous sponsors Girasole Pizza and Pasta, Edgeworthstown, Andy Byrnes Pub and of course the Longford Arms Hotel. Great to see all of the Kanes staff at the game too; they were saying Bon Voyage to Rose Kane who was leaving her job to take up a position with the UN in South Sudan. It was nice to see two of our former managers at the game Tony Cousins and Alan Mathews. Donald Keogh though was unfortunately absent due to airline difficulties.

Former player “the Flying Schoolmaster” Paschal Quinn RIP was rightly honoured with a minute’s silence; he’d have been chuffed that the occasion was broadcast nationwide. Seamus Murray was able to avail of the facilities to get an excellent aerial photo of the carpet like pitch; the Height for Hire cherry picker was used. James Donnelly our media manager, was able to rub shoulders with the top RTE media folk and by all accounts, they were mightily impressed with his expertise and passion. The scoreboard wasn’t ready for the night but it’s only a matter of a short time now.

We had 1,181 at the game on Friday. When you consider the population of the town is 10,000, that’s a terrific turnout on a working night. In proportion, that would translate to 20,000 in Cork. Not bad.

FRIENDLY U19 INTERNATIONAL

Sunday saw the stars of the future from Wales and Ireland strut their stuff in an U19 Friendly. Ireland had enough chances to win two games but it was Wales who actually won the game by a single goal to nil. Apart from the score, it was a pity that there weren’t more people present to see tomorrow’s talent on show. One player to catch the eye was Ryan Johansson. Ryan came on as a second half sub and immediately made a huge impression. Although only 17, his future looks bright already. He was born in Luxembourg, his father is Swedish and his mother is from up the road in Mullingar – her name is Christine McCarthy. Although he has featured at underage level for Sweden, his mammy must have influenced him to don the green jersey. He’s now a senior player with Bayern Munich and while on their US tour earlier, he featured against Juventus and Man City. He has also played against PSG. No wonder he’s being called a teenage sensation. And there he was strutting his stuff on a Sunday afternoon out the Strokestown Road. Remember where you saw him first. By the way, in the second of the games, Ireland defeated Wales 2-0 in Galway.

[gallery link="file" ids="19228,19224,19225,19226,19227,19229"]

MORE INTERNATIONALS?

Earlier on in the season, we had a University International game when we hosted Ireland and France at the City Calling Stadium. Then on Sunday we went a step further up the ladder with the friendly. Seemingly all our visiting guests were impressed with our set up which can only be good for the future. Already, there’s word of more than one international qualifying game to be played in Longford. Now surely that’s a massive success for all involved with the club.


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