The pitch was perfect and the weather matched as we clashed with resurgent Waterford last Saturday night. There was a tension in the air knowing that a win would be vital; our noisy neighbours, with their impressive win the previous night were not within snapping distance. If our visitors were experiencing legal battles off the pitch, they certainly didn't show it on the pitch. They too knew that this was going to be a tough encounter.
Both sides have changed personnel since the first meeting and an indication of this was the squad numbers displayed by the Town players with as many over 20 as under. It was good to see Des Hope back again and his experience certainly paid off. The home support was hoping to see David O Sullivan bulging the net again and they didn't have to wait too long. Around the 20 minute mark, Waterford keeper and former Town player Hyland was shown a straight red following the awarding of a penalty for us. Sully duly delivered and that settled nerves for a short while.
However, Waterford battled and battled and chances for both sides came and went. The half time whistle was a welcome relief for players and supporters, time was needed to draw breath.
There was a sizable travelling band of Blues support who were pleasantly surprised with the hurling game being televised in the Clubhouse. As for ourselves, the recent top class refurbishment was greatly admired.
The second half wasn't too long on when new signing Glen O’Connor blasted to the net from a free 25 yards out. Two nil up and it was looking good. But there wasn't a second to relax with mistakes being made and possession given away by both sides. Waterford pressed forward at every opportunity to try to wrestle a share of the points. But the Town were equally determined to hold on to three very valuable points. When the man with the board indicated five additional minutes, you could hear Tony Cousins’ heart thumping. For those of us who had seen our lead wiped away in the dying seconds at Drom, our hearts thumped in sympathy. Though there were less than 500 present, it felt like thousands with the away support adding greatly to the tension filled atmosphere.
Again, the ref's final whistle sounded so sweet with the knowledge that our four point gap at the top had been maintained. Phew!
FINN HARPS AWAY
We're back on the road again with another very tough game against Finn Harps this Friday night. While Harps haven't been flying recently, they are the only team who have beaten us twice and for whatever reason they always rise to great heights against us. Tony Cousins will not need to be reminded of our poor record against the men for Donegal. This week promises to be one of the hottest in many summers but hopefully we'll be red hot ourselves in getting a decent result up in the north west.
The Supporters' Club wil be running a bus and if you're interested, get in touch by Wednesday evening with Liam Healion on 087 6141926. It looks like Section O will be in charge of transport for the following week's away game.
The Supporters' Club would like to extend its sincere condolences to the family of Oliver Keenan who died recently. Oliver was remembered in the minute's silence before the game on Saturday night last. For many decades the Keenan family have been closely associated with the club and he'll be greatly missed. May he rest in peace.
PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Willie Tyrrell was the popular player of the month for June. However, he was so intent on the game against Waterford, he forgot the presentation before the game and sprinted past Emily and Roger Turner who were standing with his trophy wondering why he wasn't stopping! He did receive his trophy at the end of the game but a proper presentation will be made at a later date. The trophy for June was sponsored by the Turner family in memory of our late Chairman, Brendan.
Everyone in the Supporters' Club and indeed everyone locally would like to wish Mark Salmon a speedy recovery following his awful injury sustained against Athlone Town. Sammo was the heart beat in the centre of midfield as well being our inspirational captain. His is a massive loss to the club but what's much more important is his recovery. We really hope he recovers as soon as possible and his many fans and friends look forward to seeing him back soon again at City Calling Stadium.
We wish loyal supporter Matt Hynes all the best as he prepares to relocate back to the west, to Galway. Matt has hardly missed a home game in many seasons now and always sits in the same vantage point. It looks like we'll have to get a plaque to mark his famous patch high up in the stand.
And on the other hand, we wish to welcome Les Fisher who is a regular traveller to Longford from England and who attends City Calling Stadium on every occasion. Les really enjoyed the close encounter with Waterford along with his grandchild. He now has to get working on his wife Bridie and bring her along too.
The Longford Town goalkeeping legend that was Kevin Blount passed away in Dublin last week. Kevin was fondly remembered by the older supporters before the game last week. Some remember his all black gear and polo neck. But for others, as well as his heroics between the posts, they recalled the time he actually got a hand roller from behind the goals and proceeded to roll the goalmouth area while the play was down the other half. What would today's refs make of that one!
He played with some other top teams in the league, was well decorated and also got a call up to the international side. He was also hugely popular with the youngsters of the town in the 60s and always had time for a chat with them after (and sometimes during) games. His passing is to be recognised in a forthcoming international match programme and rightly so.
And finally, probably our best know supporter Padraic Connolly has finally decided to retire after many decades of dedicated work with An Post to concentrate fully on supporting all things local and particularly Longford Town FC. An Post's loss will be our gain. Originally from Keon Tce., opposite the Cathedral, Padraic left Longford many moons ago but his big heart remained. In the distant past, when Thin Lizzy used to play the Temperance Hall, Phil Lynott used to go back to Padraic's for cups of tea and long chats. So maybe, Padraic will take up concert promotions at City Calling Stadium in the future. Best of luck Padraic for a long, happy, healthy and fulfilling retirement from all in the Supporters' Club.