With well under three weeks until the newly named SSE Airtricity League season gets underway, Longford Town manager, Tony Cousins will be hoping the weather holds up for Saturday’s planned friendly with Cork City FC at Bishopstown. Here to preview the game rain, hail or shine is our reporter Kieran Burke (@burko77_):
Longford Town FC will be hoping to beat the weather as well as opponents Cork City on Saturday following Tuesday’s cancelation at The Showgrounds in Sligo. The stormy weather currently sweeping the country has caused great problems in terms of preparation for the new season to all League of Ireland clubs and both Tony Cousins and City boss, John Caulfield will be eager to see this game, scheduled to kick-off at 2pm in Bishopstown, go ahead and give their troops some extra minutes before their respective league openers on March 7th.
Hosts Cork City, start their 2014 Premier Division campaign with what should be a bumper home crowd at the Cross as Champions, St.Patrick’s Athletic come to Leeside. City became only the second team in the entire league to defeat the 2013 winners with a final day 4-2 home victory and with some impressive additions over the course of the off-season, the “Rebel Army” faithful will be hoping to challenge Irish football’s elite again this season.
Anthony Elding is the headline signing on Leeside having signed fresh off the back of scoring the FAI Cup clinching goal for Sligo Rovers at the Aviva in last season’s big finale while the acquisitions of Darren Murphy (Woking), Billy Dennehy (Shamrock Rovers), Michael Rafter (Derry City), Mark O’Sullivan (Avondale United) and Liam Kearney give Cork City real options going forward and should ensure they score plenty of goals this season. The loss of Daryl Horgan however, is a real blow to everyone at the club as the now Dundalk man really does look like a player that could go all the way and secure a big cross channel move, with many comparing him to Ireland international James McClean.
As for Tony Cousins' Longford, the trip to Cork should allow some of the more recent arrivals at the club to catch up with their counterparts in terms of minutes under the belt with Sean Russell and Daryl Carrigy just two of the names that come to mind having made their debuts at home to Athlone in the last game. While results are far from the be all and end all of pre-season, “De Town” are yet to record a win in normal time since football resumed so that is something the players may want to rectify to silence anyone who may use pre-season results as a chance to put pressure on ahead of the league campaign, a campaign that is expected to be extremely competitive across all fronts for the “Red and Black Army”.
The opening week of the 2014 season is set to be explosive for Town with Galway FC, Athlone Town and Shelbourne all on the fixtures list for Tony Cousins' side. Should Saturday’s game with Cork go ahead the next step on Longford’s road to Eamon Deacy Park is a home friendly with the other Munster based Premier Division side, Limerick FC on Saturday 22nd February (7:30pm KO).
The game at Bishopstown will bring back memories of more high profile encounters between the clubs in years gone by with the 2007 FAI Cup final at the RDS one of those memories, a game in which City’s latest signing, Liam Kearney played a star role for the “Rebels” in a 1-0 triumph over Alan Mathews relegated Longford team that included the likes of Dave Mooney, Dessie Baker and Sean Prunty. Cork City were promoted back to the top flight in 2011 under none other than current Galway FC boss, Tommy Dunne and he will be hoping his old chargers can take some steam out of Longford’s sails ahead of that massive encounter in the West on March 7th.