Fri May 3rd 2013
With eight points between the sides going into Friday's crunch encounter at the RSC one man determined to cut Longford's lead at the top is former number one and current "Blues" 'keeper Craig Hyland. LTFC.ie reporter Kieran Burke (@burko77_) spoke to "Hylo" earlier this week for an in depth interview as the pair discussed the upcoming game. Read more to find out!
Q: Craig, this is your second appearance of the season against your club from last season, Longford Town. But just how does it feel to play against players you shared a locker room with for two years or so?
A: That’s a tough one, on one hand it always good to see the lads as I’ve made some very good friends in the Longford team and the on the other hand you know you have to go out and try and beat them. At the end of the day your friends before you step onto the pitch and then again after the game. Once your step onto the pitch it’s all about doing the best for your own team.
Q: Despite only leaving "De Town" at the end of last season, Waterford is in fact your second club since then having signed for Crusaders before a change of thought which lead Paul O'Brien to sign you. Is that a sign of just how unpredictable the sport of football is?
A: Yeah, it was a funny one. Having left Longford I had a number of options and I decided to sign for Crusaders up north. They were the current Setanta cup holders and were again pushing for the league. But a few weeks in it became clear that due to a number of issues it wasn’t really going to suit me. Fortunately Paul O’ Brien was still keen for me to get down to Waterford so I grabbed the opportunity. It really does show that nothing is certain in football and anything can happen from day to day.
Q: Was it strange to sign for Waterford United of all clubs having spent the majority of last season trying to beat them as main rivals to promotion? Did you think twice about the move at all?
A: Honestly, after what had gone on up north and the amount of travelling I had been doing, when I realised it wasn't going to work out I jumped at the opportunity. I had been very close to signing for Waterford before I went up north so I was thankful the option was there. In terms of looking back on last season, obviously I owe everyone at Longford from the players and staff to the fans a lot for the support and allowing me to play so much in my first season in the league. But when it came down to it I needed to go somewhere I could play and compete at the same level as last season so Waterford was a good opportunity for me.
Q: On Friday night you face the divisions most in-form striker in David O'Sullivan. Have the management team talked about or worked on anything different in training this week in order to stop the league’s top scorer?
A: I actually know Davy very well, I played with Davy back at Bray when I was only 17 and played college football with him for two seasons as well. He is a very good player; one I believe can go onto a much higher level. What we do on the training ground though stays on the training ground. I will say this though, while Davy is very good and in form, the Longford team are more than about one player so it’s what we do to shut them down as a unit rather the focus on one player that is important.
Q: One player in the Waterford dressing room at present that seems to be very confident (judging by his tweets anyway) is "Blues" number ten, Paudie Quinn. How impressed have you been by his form in particular this season and could he very well supply us with another world class goal, like he scored in the reverse fixture, on Friday night?
A: Paudie has been very good for us; he’s our top scorer and looks likely to score in every game. He gives us something different as he has a lot to his game. As far as his goal in the last game (against Longford) goes, that’s something you see from Paudie on a regular basis in training and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he does it again.
Q: Competition for places is one of the factors being attributed to Longford's success so far this season but how is the competition for places in the Waterford starting 11 at present? In your case you have quite a large fellow goalkeeper to fight off for the number one jersey in Chip Saunders don't you?
A: We have again got a young squad this year with some excellent young players. Recently due to suspensions and injuries along with players being on International duty we have been down on numbers a bit but I think we’re nearly back to our full complement of players now which will only benefit the squad. It’s good to have someone like Chip to compete with, he’s a very good keeper and a very good guy so we push each other all the way but we work well together.
Q: My final question to you Craig is of the light hearted nature but whenever an outfield player faces his former club the big question on fans and pundits mind is "will he celebrate if he scores". So Craig, if you were an outfield player that scored on Friday night would you celebrate wildly?
A: I honestly don’t buy into the not celebrating thing to be honest, I don’t understand why a player wouldn’t celebrate scoring with their team mates. It’s becoming more of an attention grabbing thing by not celebrating, so yes I would celebrate.
Q: Damien O Connor via Facebook: Hi Craig, with so much expectation placed on Waterford this season, does the pressure from the fans become too much at times?
A: There was a lot of talk about us being favourites at the start of the year but that's not something we in the dressing room talked about or let faze us. Obviously fans are entitled to their opinions but there is a long long way to go yet and we will still have a big say in who wins the league!