Interview by Andrew Dempsey
Since joining the club in July 2017, Sam Verdon has established himself as one of Neale Fenn’s most trusted creative sparks in the midfield area, during his brief, yet fruitful stint at Longford Town having joined the club from former club St Patrick’s Athletic in last year’s summer transfer window.
So, ahead of this weekend’s bumper weekend of action down in Cobh, Sam spoke with LTFC.ie reporter Andrew Dempsey, as the pair looked back on a heart-breaking few weeks for De Town while also looking ahead to an exciting weekend of action at St Colman’s Park.
After joining the club shortly after the arrival of Neale Fenn at the helm, Sam noted that he has thoroughly enjoyed his spell in the Red and Black of Longford Town so far.
“It’s been great! When I first came the league was more or less over as Waterford had the league wrapped up, but we had a good cup run to the quarter-finals against Cork City. It was great for myself personally to get some senior games under my belt and obviously since the start of this year we started off well, but we’ve had a few bad results in recent weeks, but it’s been good so far and I’ve really enjoyed it!”
Having worked under Liam Buckley at St Pat’s for so long prior to his move to the Midlands, the now 22-year-old Dubliner revealed that he has found playing under Neale Fenn quite similar to his time with Liam Buckley at Inchicore, with the style of play being a major plus side of the pairs relationship with Sam.
“Well it’s quite similar! They both try and keep the ball and they both try and play the same style of football anyway so in that terms its hardly been a massive change for me now. Obviously, every manager is different when they try to do things and they all do things differently but its been good for me. I like to play the way that both Neale and Liam want to play so it hasn’t been a massive change, but it’s been good!”
With so many experienced heads joining De Town in the off-season, Sam revealed that he has found working with the likes of Shane O’Connor, Chris Mulhall and Darren Meenan to be a great learning experience as he looks to forge a promising career for himself at the City Calling Stadium.
“They’ve all been great in fairness to them. Darren’s obviously achieved great things up at Dundalk and he’s had a great career while Shane and Chris have likewise. It’s great to have a mix between youth and experience which we do have. We’ve got a good mix in the team between young and old lads and it’s a good blend as we look to get a bit of success!”
Verdon also admitted that he has found the help of more senior players to be a welcome learning curve for himself in previous years and he is now looking to pass on his footballing knowledge gained from to the likes of Greg Bolger and Keith Fahey to younger players in the Longford Town first-team, like local midfield star Aodh Dervin.
“I see myself passing on bits and pieces to the likes of Aodh whose come in and done a great job for us so far! It’s very unfortunate that he’s after getting injured but it’s the little things that we all pass on to each other. It’s always a thing that when you’re young you look to the older lads for a bit of advice here and there! I remember when I was younger I was getting advice from the likes of James Chambers, Greg Bolger, Keith Fahey and all them players. Even just a little word in the ear can be a huge help and its generally always minute details!”
However, with the amount of late goals going against the “Red and Black” at the moment, Verdon is hoping that this rotten run of bad luck will cease in the not so distant future at the City Calling Stadium.
“It’s heart-breaking. It really is but look, that’s football. We hope that later on in the season our luck will change somewhere along the way and we’ll be the ones getting late goals but when you look back on Saturday I think that was our best performance of the season and it’s a game you’re wondering how did we not get a win, and then if we take a point at least we didn’t lose it but to lose it that way was heart-breaking.
“Saying that, it wasn’t just the other night, it happened us against Drogheda, Cobh and Shels as well. It could be just a little of maturity in a way that is needed, and we need to iron out one or two little things. It’s not to do with the players we have or anything like that but it’s the know-how. The other teams like Shelbourne and Finn Harps both have that and that’s something we’ll have to learn.”
However, looking ahead to the two trips down to Cobh in the space of four days, Sam knows the importance of staying in touch with the league leaders as Neale Fenn readies the troops for a big weekend of games down in St Colman’s Park.
“It’s going to be tough! You’ll never get an easy game going down to Cobh, small pitch, small ground, tough team so yes, it is going be a tough game. We haven’t really spoken about Tuesday yet and we’re just looking at Saturday and that’s the most important one for us! It’s a league game and we need the three points. We need to start catching back up with the teams at the top of the table because we can’t afford to drop any more points or else we’ll fall away.”
With De Town set to travel a mammoth 992km in just four days, the attacking midfield star knows that there will be an added importance in getting in as much rest as possible over the weekend as the Red and Black of the Midlands look to get back into the promotion hunt while also looking to reach the semi-finals of the EA Sports Cup where a big day lies in waiting for Neale Fenn and his youthful, hungry side.
“Yeah it will be tough with the travel and all the injuries we’ve got now. We need to be careful when we go down there. We’ll head down Saturday, and we’ll obviously get back late on Saturday night and we’ll be back at home on Sunday before we’ve a light session on the Monday to prepare for Tuesday. So, it’s a lot of travelling especially for a part-time team which is difficult because full-time teams have the benefits of relaxing and doing nothing outside of football while part-time lads have work and things like that. It’s all about getting that rest in between now and then. We want to go down and get the three points then we have a great chance to get to a cup semi-final against the top teams in the country so both games are massive!”
And finally, Sam had this message to pass onto the supporters who will be making the long trip down to Cobh come Saturday night as De Town will be looking to shoot their way up the table this coming weekend.
“We’re going to go down there and try our best and look to get a good win! I don’t know if they know it or not, but their support really does help spur us on. Obviously, the noise they make gives us an extra gear and hopefully they can be as loud as they can. In fairness, they’ve been great for us so far and hopefully they can continue what they’re doing, and we’ll hopefully be sending them home happy with the three points!”