Longford Town's man behind the posts, Paul Hunt is being grilled by Town fan, Kieran Burke. For more great interviews throughout the season, you'll find them in Longford Town's official match day programme, available at all home games...
Q: So Paul, with just under a month to go now until the 2012 Airtricity League season kicks off, how are you feeling? Excited, nervous, both?
A: I must say I'm feeling very excited about the new season. The nerves haven't kicked in just yet but I'd say they will a little closer to the first game.
Q: Last season “De Town” finished a very respectable 6th place (11 team division) but with only eight teams taking to the starting grid in the First Division this season where should the Town be aiming for in 2012?
A:The answer to that is simple we're in it to win it. I truly believe we can win it this year and at least come in the top 3 and get in the play- offs.
Q: The FAI announced the fixtures for the First Division just over a week ago and its Mervue United away on the opening day, your reaction to that one?
A: It’s a tough game to start as we seen last year when we went down there last year and lost 2-1 to a last minute goal. A lot of players will remember that game and we'll be going down to fix it this year.
Q: While I’m sure a lot of Town fans were disappointed to be drawn away on the opening day, the first home game of the season just one week later well and truly makes up for the extra wait with Athlone Town visiting the “Flansiro”. Are you excited to start the home campaign with such a big game?
A: Yes, it’s a good game to start at home with for the fans and players and hopefully we well get a big enough crowd at the game but it doesn’t matter who we start against there all big games for us this year if we're going to win the league. We have to look at every game as a big game and our cup final.
Q: Tony Cousins was busy again in the transfer market this pre-season with Karl Bermingham, Gary Shaw, David McGill, Colly James, Noel Haverty and Craig Hyland all signing for the club, how have the new lads settled in during pre-season training?
A: The lads have settled in well, most of the lads knew them from playing with them or against them throughout the years. It’s like they have been there as long as everyone else.
Q: A lot of football fans seem to believe in a bit of a myth when it comes to goalkeepers that you guys do very little fitness work in pre-season while the rest of your team mates run their legs off. Can you give us a little insight into your pre-season schedule?
A: Well it’s not just all the fans, players think it as well but I don't believe it’s true. Goalkeepers I believe would be as fit as outfield players it’s just a different kind of fitness. Goalkeepers fitness is more about getting up and down whereas players is running around fitness if that makes sense to you. For us we do a lot of short, sharp stuff, going down on the ground getting up quick, moving from side to side quick, also being quick at coming off the lines.
Q: Last season was your first with the club but despite a very impressive start to your Longford career you seemed to find game time a little bit tighter towards the end of the campaign with Barbados 'keeper Alvin Rouse often keeping you out. Tell us as a goalkeeper how frustrating can a spell on the sidelines be and with Alvin now gone do you see yourself pushing on personally this season?
A: Yes, it was frustrating not playing, every player wants to play week in week out. At the end of last season I wasn't helped by the suspension I got from the Athlone game then I got an injury that we weren't too sure what it was so it was tough to try get rid of. This season I just intend to get my head down work harder and hopefully push on from last year.
Q: You’re only a young man “Hunty” (21) leaving you with plenty of time to shine and develop as a goalkeeper and as you are English born , do you ever think about or dream of a big move back home?
A: Yes of course, it would be a childhood dream. You should always aim to play at the highest level you possibly can and I'm not any different. I just have to put my head down work hard and we'll just see what happens.
Q: When it comes to goalkeepers you often hear that some of the best in the business started as outfield players before finally realising that they in fact had a bit of a knack for shot stopping. Is that the case for you or were you always destined to play between the sticks?
A: Well I always loved goalkeeping but when I first started playing football for a local side in Kildare, I played as a centre half and then again when I first went up to Bohemians. But when I was about 14, I decided it was a keeper I wanted to be and I haven't looked back since.
Q: You also often hear some of the top pros talk about people who inspired them as a youngster, who was your hero as a young boy?
A: My hero was always Peter Schmeichel, he was a great keeper. There were also a few people around me that inspired me to push on, especially my father who had a big impact on my career and still does to this day. My grandfather also helped me in my career. I am lucky to have these people still in my life and I would always listen to the advice they'd give me to me this day. Then there was my goalkeeping coach in the FÁS course I did, and at St. Pats, Brian O'Shea, he was a huge inspiration on my career and he made me believe in myself and push myself on to get where I am today.
Q: And finally Paul it’s our weekly random question.........Your most embarrassing off-field moment?
A: I don't have many off-field embarrassing moments but it would probably have to be something when I was a bit drunk that I'm not aware of. (Or not willing to tell us eh Hunty?)
Thanks to Paul Hunt and to Kieran Burke for the interview.