If ever there was a game of two contrasting halves, this was it. We were welcomed to Sligo's Showgrounds with a torrential mid summer downpour but luckily the rain clouds moved away before kick off. However in a horrible 13 minutes of the first half the visitors were all at sea as the hosts scored three unanswered goals. To be brutally honest it could have been much worse , and at half time as we scratched our collective head while Sligo Rovers trooped off to a standing ovation.
Sligo's crisp and accurate passing tore us asunder and even when they were hesitant and over played the ball at the back, we failed to punish them. The omens were bad.
New signing Dean Kelly replaced Sully and Ayman Ben Mohamed were introduced and both made a telling impact as the entire team upped the ante. Just after the hour mark, a hard working Salmon was fouled in the box and he cooly slotted away the resultant spot kick, sending their keeper the wrong way. Mohamed was causing plenty of problems and winning frees, Section O roared back to life as we continuously pressed forward making the locals increasing nervous. Salmon's sweet free kick was met by a robust Dean Kelly's head which brought us to 3-2. Shortly afterwards Gary Shaw and the rest of us thought the tall man had done enough with his powerful header only to see the Sligo keeper save with his finger nails. Skinner had to make a super save in the final minutes to keep the scoreline at 3-2 and despite our valiant efforts, we just couldn't turn the first half nightmare into a dream ending. We remain in sixth position but a dog fight to the season's end is looking more likely with each passing weekend.
CORK CITY AT HOME
We welcome Cork City and their 'Shed' supporters to the City Calling Stadium this Saturday night, kick off as usual at 7.30pm. Following their unexpected loss up in Iceland, Cork will be keen not to lose twice in a row on the road; though Iceland is a bit further away on the road than Longford for their travelling band of supporters. Currently in second place, Cork City will provide stiff opposition for De Town who will be hoping to bounce back after the set back up the N4 on Saturday night. With a few Town supporters opting to support the county in Mullingar at their “home” game last Saturday, hopefully we'll see them (and a hell of a lot more) back at a real home game at the City Calling Stadium this Saturday night. It's a tough month for the De Town with five hard games in July but if only more would come out to support us, it would help a great deal.
The Showgrounds is a very accessible grounds for Town supporters and unless you arrive late, parking should be no major problem. As is now the norm around grounds, the staff were welcoming, efficient and helpful. They have plenty of spots for selling everything but their prices are higher than ours. A cup of tea is double our price and their match programme is a hefty four euro, though it is an excellent production. Despite the torrential rain before kick off, there were no puddles and a lone groundsman with a sturdy grape seemed to work miracles.
Well done to our Ballinalee resident and Town legend, Alan Kirby on his recent academic success. Kirbs headed back to school at the tender age of 30 and has now graduated with an honours degree in Business, specialising in tax advice. It's an absolutely fantastic achievement for the affable Waterford native and as many professionals in the game have already commented, he's an example for all of them, as well as the rest of us mere mortals. There were numerous early morning train journeys to Dublin and late nights dribbling through thick books. Fair play Kirbs and to your loyal supporter Caitriona. When the celebrations draw to a close, hopefully you'll get set up locally and help Archie, our over worked Treasurer. The Supporters' Club are very proud of you Kirbs, well done.
FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED IN SLIGO
Heary was not popular up there.
Despite doing poorly so far, they still have an impressive core support.
They somehow managed to move their equivalent of our Section O to the the main stand to improve the atmosphere.
They cleared an incredible €44,000 on their annual draw; €44,000.
Feericks Hotel, Rathowen paid money to sponsor the game. (20 km from Longford).
CAR BOOT SALE
It may be only mid July but our next CAR BOOT SALE is fast approaching. It will be on Monday August 3rd at the City Calling Stadium. With one of our main men heading to checkout facilities at the Camp Nou at the same time, we really do need some extra volunteers. Already, this season, the Supporters' Club have made some significant contributions to the successful running . The Car Boot Sale is a vital part of our fund intake and even more so recently since we don't have the Golf Classic. Have a word with Liam Healion if you can help out, it'd be greatly appreciated.
Word has it that Damian Duff could be making his league of Ireland debut when we host Shamrock Rovers in August. Hopefully this will be true as his mere presence is sure to attract a larger gate than usual.
The next round of the FAI Cup draw will be held at the Showgrounds this coming weekend. All the FAI heavyweights will be heading through Longford as they make their way to the north west for their annual AGM.