Town defender, Des Hope speaks to Kieran Burke.
Q: So Des, tell us how you spent the break? Have you been watching the Euro's in horror like the rest of us or did you hit a beach somewhere?
A: Yeah, I watched all the Ireland games and it was a big disappointment but the group finished the way I thought it would with Spain and Italy 1st and 2nd.
Q: A mid-season break isn't something you see in a lot of leagues. Do you feel it’s important for the players to get a mid-season break or is it a bit of a nuisance?
A: It can be a help for players with knocks and injuries but I feel it's too long this season. A two week break would be enough.
Q: Before the break 'De Town' went through a rough patch with elimination in the FAI Cup followed up by defeat in our biggest home game of the season so far. In that regard did the break come at the right time for you guys or would you have preferred to get straight onto the Finn Harps challenge?
A: I certainly would have preferred to play straight away but it could be a good thing we had time off just to recharge the batteries.
Q: There have been some epic meetings between these two sides down the years with last season’s FAI Cup replay in Finn Park a highlight for many Town fans. From playing in these games and that game last season in particular do you feel there is a rivalry developing between the clubs?
A: There seems to be alright which is strange because of the distance between the two clubs.
Q: You of course suffered defeat in the last meeting between these two sides. Harps fans will say that gives them an advantage ahead of this game while Town fans will point to last season unblemished league record against Harps. Are you someone that thinks about previous encounters going into games or do you live by the cliché "it’s a whole new ball game", "on any given day" etc etc?
A: Well I wasn’t playing the last time we played them so of course we have a better chance of winning this time around!!!! Haha, Ah no, we were one-nil up when ‘Hylo’ (Craig Hyland, Longford Town goalkeeper) got sent off that day and the game changed after that.
Q: According to the many stats men around the club, 'De Town' set a club record of five straight wins earlier this season. Do you feel the team is capable of not only matching that stat again this season but bettering it in order to push on for promotion?
A: Ye, of course we can, we know we can. There is great ability in this squad and we feel if we can perform in the remaining games we can go on to win it (the league).
Q: The stats will also tell you the Longford Town back four kept three clean sheets in a row only a few weeks ago but have conceded four goals in the last two games. My question is can 'De Town' back four get back to the high performance levels they showed earlier this season?
A: We know going out that if we can keep a clean sheet in the games we will win with the attacking options we have. The last few weeks the back four was changing every game which doesn't help.
Q: In the past few days the promotion road map has been altered slightly after Monaghan United's demise with the news that the team finishing bottom of the Premier Division will now play a play-off against the First Division play-off winners. If Longford Town were to reach that play-off final would you be confident or are you simply concentrating on trying to secure automatic promotion?
A: We want to win this league no doubt about it and that's all we are thinking about as a team.
Q: While I don't want to go too deep into the awful situation up in Monaghan it must be worrying for other LOI people such as yourself when you see a club like that go under?
A: It is shocking that it's still happening. So many clubs have folded since I started playing and a lot have come close to folding. It’s terrible for players, management and of course the fans.
Q: Moving on now, I'd love to get your views on the Irish team and their performances at Euro 2012. Can the problems be simply solved through a change of manager or are you in the same boat as St.Pat's Ger O'Brien who stated in an online column recently that the whole of Irish football from top to bottom needs to be revamped starting with grass roots?
A: Firstly I don't think we should be playing 4-4-2 against the better teams. We need to play 4-5-1 and crowd the midfield. We also need to have a look at some of the players ‘Trap’ picked like Paul Greene. How can he be in the squad ahead of the likes of Wes Hoolihan? Hopefully ‘Trap’ might realise that after the displays at this Euro Championships.
Q: For any Town fans out there looking for a good betting tip, who is going to win the euro's and why?
A: I fancy Spain or Germany to win it. They just have so much quality in their squads.