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.
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.
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.