Enda Curran speaks to Between the Stripes

Image via http://www.galwayunitedfc.ie

Cast your mind back to mid-season 2013. Tony Cousins Longford led the way in a fiercely contested First Division promotion battle with Roddy Collins Athlone and a resurgent Waterford United hot on the leaders heels. An injury to Longford’s midfield general Mark Salmon, against none other than Athlone in a surprise 2-0 defeat at the Athlone Town Stadium, had swung the momentum in the division greatly as cracks started to appear in a previously invincible looking Longford. The need for reinforcements at both Midland clubs was clear and with both Cousins and Collins sights set on Salthill striker Enda Curran, the outcome of this transfer tug-of-war would prove key in the fate of the First Division title for that season. As the weeks went on and the speculation and column inches grew by the day, Athlone boss Collins appeared to grow increasingly impatient with the Galway man and issued him somewhat an ultimate on local radio to either make up his mind or just call the move off to Athlone all together. Collins claimed in said interview that Curran’s stalling of the move was down to Longford offering him more money but after that move then fell apart Collins was happy to welcome the striker to Lissywollen.

A debut goal at home to Finn Harps in a rocking stadium got Curran on his way as Athlone went on to leave Longford eating their dust and claim a return to the top-flight for the first time in almost a decade. Understandably this resulted in Curran flacking some stick from the other-half of the Midlands divide upon returns to City Calling Stadium with Derry City and later Galway United. When asked to reflect on the move to Athlone and everything that had gone since, Curran had this to say to Between the Stripes:

“At the time it was a difficult decision for me. Derek O’Brien was my team mate at Salthill and he decided to to Longford over Athlone. I chose Athlone but I do feel it could have went either way. I hit the ground running with Athlone and never really looked back after that! I’ve taken a lot of abuse off the Longford fans over the past few seasons but hopefully I can sway them in my favour now.”

With manager Roddy Collins moving on quickly to Derry City following his title win with Athlone, Curran was brought along for what would turn out to be a turbulent ride at the Brandywell. Curran was often played out of his natural striking position at Derry and as a result struggled to match his exploits from the season gone by. A move to home-town club Galway United would follow and despite a fantastic maiden season in 2015, where he netted 12 league goals, the up and down season the “Tribesmen” endured in 2016 clearly effected Curran, who only managed three goals. A move to recently relegated Longford Town is now the next step in the former Mervue man’s career and when asked if he felt this was the right move personally Curran stated:

“I had a good season in 2013 and as I won the league that season I only have fond memories of it! To be honest I’m not sure what people’s views on me are but I feel that 16 goals in two seasons in the Premier Division is nothing to turn your nose up at. I’ve been chopped and changed from a conventional number 9 to 10 which I don’t mind but sometimes assists are as good as goals. Last season for whatever reason I wasn’t involved as much as I liked but when I was I always felt I contributed to the team. That’s all in the past now and I’m looking forward to wearing the Red and Black of Longford!”

Strong title favourites for an upcoming season which will only see the champions promoted to the Premier Division due to the FAI’s grossly unpopular change in league structure, anything other than a league title win will be viewed as failure at Curran’s new club. With legendary manager Alan Mathews back at the helm, the former Cork City, Drogheda United, Bray Wanderers and Athlone Town boss will be hoping to add the First Division trophy to the two FAI cups and league cup collected at his previous spell with “De Town”.  Despite Curran’s disappointing goals return last term, interest was still high in the twenty-four-year-old with Finn Harps reportedly one of the Premier clubs he turned down in order to make to move to Longford. Curran was quick to mention the influence Mathews had in his decision to make the Midlands move.

“When Alan spoke to me he sold the club really well and the direction the club is going. I had a couple of offers from Premier Division clubs but I felt that the way Longford Town are building towards the future that I wanted to be part of it. The signings and re-signings the club has made was a huge signal of intent of where the club is headed in my opinion.”

Curran is one of a number of star-studded signings made by Mathews over the course of the off-season. Announced jointly with Curran was the arrival of Galway team-mate Stephen Walsh and former Bray man Dean Zambra. Elsewhere the likes of Jake Kelly and Dylan McGlade are sure to get Town fans off the edge of their seats during the course of the new season. As a result the pressure of expectancy is at an all-time high at the Midlands club and Curran was asked to give his views on how the “Red and Black” may deal with such a strong spotlight for the season ahead.

“As I said previously the signings that Alan has made are a huge statement to the rest of the league but once we cross the white line we have to deliver. I think there’s enough experience to deal with that kind of pressure but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves because we know the threat the likes of Waterford/UCD/Wexford pose to us! We’re focusing on a good pre-season and “Shels” first game.”

Curran battles new team-mate Kevin O’Connor for possession. Image via http://www.galwayunitedfc.ie

Going on to speak about his fellow new signings, Curran stressed the quality this current Town team possesses but also spoke of his desire to learn from the more experienced members of the squad.

“It’s clear to see the talent in the group and hopefully I can add to that. The names you’ve just mentioned are going to have the crowd excited to watch us play and hopefully the results follow. “Davy” and “Kev” have done it at all levels and for me personally I intend to try to learn something off everyone I play with/under and this year is no different… I’m excited to get going.”

Ever since Curran’s arrival was announced at the club, supporters have been getting excited about the prospect of a strike partnership between Curran and the clubs all-time leading goal scorer David O’Sullivan. With the pace of Kelly, McGlade and Cowan supported by the creativity of Zambra and O’Connor, this looks like a Town team capable of blowing opposition teams away. When asked about a potential partnership with one time rival O’Sullivan, Curran said this:

“I think we both can complement each other.  “Davy” has electric pace and a great eye for goal while I like to drop in, hold it up and try open space for others. It’s a partnership with potential but time will tell.”

With pre-season training now underway at all League of Ireland clubs, Curran and his new team-mates have been going through their paces under the guidance of Mathews and his coaching staff of Kevin Doherty and Gary Cronnin, both former players at the club. Curran spoke highly of pre-season to date:

“”Gaz” and “Kev” have been great to me since signing. The training has been really good and the intensity of training is very strong which is exactly what the squad needs.”

Rounding up the interview, the confident Curran was asked about personal targets for the campaign ahead and if he had been set a goals tally by the clubs coaching staff. However, for once Curran was more reserved and gave little away.

“I always set myself personal goals but I don’t let anybody know them until either I’ve reached them or else the season finishes so I won’t change that. To be honest I don’t mind if I don’t score once the result goes in our favour. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to score but the result is the most important thing to me.

Q&A with new Town signing Jack Brady

Q1: First of all Jack, welcome to the club. Having come through the Shelbourne under-19 set up this is your first big move in senior football, how are you feeling about the transfer and are there any nerves at all?

A1: Firstly, I just wanted to say how delighted I am to be at Longford Town. This is a very exciting time for me and a brand new experience that I’m looking forward to. I don’t feel under any nerves at all. Playing at u19 level was massively beneficial for my development, it gave me great experience in terms of playing in big stadiums, against big clubs, and it also showed me how to prepare for away games and how to deal with high pressure situations. I was able to use these experiences when I made the jump to first team football (at Shelbourne). I got a good experience in the league last year, and hopefully I’m ready for the step up with Longford.

Q2: You only turn twenty-years-old in a couple of weeks, as a young goalkeeper do you feel this is not only the right time to be making a move to one of the divisions biggest clubs but the right club and management team to help with your development as a professional footballer?

A2: I believe the move is going to be huge for me personally. I believe there is an opportunity for this team to really progress and really push for promotion and that all comes down to the management and coaching. I’ve already experienced the professionalism and organisation of the management staff in helping me join the club. Both Alan Mathews and Kevin Doherty are extremely confident that we will push for promotion this year and I believe that having this attitude is the only way that a team could be good enough to go up. They believe in their squad and that trust is vital for both my personal development and the clubs development.

Q3: Despite your tender years, last season was a fantastic one for you personally as you claimed the player of the year award at ”Shels”. Considering the incredible history of Shelbourne FC, what did it mean to you to win such a prestigious award?

A3: I was absolutely delighted to win the Player of the Year award last season. It was a disappointing season for “Shels” but sometimes things just don’t go right in football. No matter how you prepare, no matter how good your attitude is on the pitch, no matter how hard you work, It’s not always going to work out. Thankfully for me personally I received an accolade which had previously been won by league winners and players who have gone on to do big things in the game. To be honest, when I received the award I couldn’t help but hope that one day I would go on and achieve great things in the game too. There’s no point in playing the game if you don’t believe you will achieve anything.

Q4: Shelbourne are expected to be one of Longford’s main contenders for promotion to the Premier Division next season. Did you think about staying on for another season at Tolka Park at all or was your mind made up on a move to Longford fairly quickly?

A4: Shelbourne is a great club, and of course I would have considered staying on. But when I was speaking to Alan and Kevin they made my mind up for me. I realise how big a club Longford is and when I was presented with the opportunity to join I couldn’t refuse it. I think it will be a big chance for me to show what I can do and I believe that the club will bring my game on to another level.

Q5: You’ve become the second player to arrive in the Midlands from Tolka Park in recent days with Gavin Boyne also swapping the red strip for the red and black stripes of Longford. Do you feel Gavin’s arrival at the club may help you settle in that bit quicker and for those reading this interview who may not know a lot about Gavin, what would you say his best attributes as a footballer are?

A5: Gav is a great lad. We got on great at the club last year and I believe that chemistry will benefit both of us in settling in to our new home. It’s always nice to see familiar faces, especially when they can play a bit! Gav was great for us last year in the middle of the park; he gets himself in great positions and is a great passer of the ball. I expect him to score a few goals and create lots of chances from midfield this year. He is also the fittest man on the planet and is not afraid to do the dirty work of defending around the box, so that helps me out a lot!

Q6: So far in this off-season, Alan Mathews has appeared to re-sign players with experience of winning the First Division. Do you feel the experience of players such as Kevin O’Connor, Rhys Gorman and David O’Sullivan will be a key factor for ”De Town” this season?

A6: It is imperative to getting out of this division. Last year at “Shels” we had a very inexperienced side bar 2 or 3 players and that ultimately cost us. But I feel playing with experienced players will not just help us get promoted, but it will be massively beneficial to the younger players in learning how the game works. These players will play a huge role if the season is to be successful. The first division is always a battle, and from my knowledge, experience tends to come out on top.

Q7: Battling you for the number one jersey next season will be another former Shelbourne man in Paul Skinner. Do you feel the competition for a starting place will raise the performance levels of both yourself and ”Skins” next season?

A7: Absolutely, I’ve seen “Skins” play and I’m very impressed with him. I know that I will have to work very hard to get into the team but that applies everywhere, so hopefully if I’m given my chance I take it. I firmly believe that the coaching staff will make the correct decision come the first day of the season based on how January and February’s preparation goes. If I’m in the team, great, but if I’m not I know that some part of my game will need improving and that’s how football works.

Q8: Finally Jack, do you have a message for your new fans ahead of 2017?

A8: I honestly think this season is going to be brilliant for us. Between the coaching staff, players and professional attitudes of the club we are in with a great chance of going straight back to the premier division. I hope the fans are itching to get back because I cannot wait to get started. The fans have been very supportive to me already and I hope that myself and the team can repay them in every way on the pitch. It’s going to be a fantastic experience playing at Longford and I think it will be a fantastic year too.

Longford squad taking shape

Longford Town FC last night announced the names of the first seven players that will make up the clubs squad for next years First Division campaign. Of the seven names released five are re-signings, while Aidan Friel and Gavin Boyne are new arrivals from Wexford Youths and Shelbourne FC respectively.

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Shambolic season ends with Shamrock Rovers clash

One of the most damaging seasons in Longford Town FC’s history will draw to a dark conclusion on Friday night as Alan Mathews already relegated charges look to claim a home league win for the first and only time in 2016. Continue reading

N4 derby preview

Despite only winning two games all season in the Premier Division, Longford Town could still make a fight back in the battle at the bottom as the Midlanders head to the Showgrounds on Friday night (kick-off 7-45PM).

With Longford’s relegation rivals Wexford Youths taking a hammering away to St.Patrick’s Athletic last week, while the South East club have also lost a number of players to the tempting shores of New Zealand, there was a chance for Alan Mathews men to put the pressure on with a win over 3rd placed Derry City. However, two goals in a minute for Kenny Shiels side saw ”De Town’s” fantastic start to the game go down the drain as they lost 3-2 to the ”Candystripes”.

Following that bitterly disappointing defeat on Saturday last, Alan Mathews spoke of the individual errors that cost his team on the night while also pointing to similar occurrences prior to his arrival at the club. Against Derry City it was the centre-back pairing of Pat Flynn and Yann Mvita that were at fault for the game changing goals and that will surely lead to a change in those positions on Friday night with both Noel Haverty and Rhys Gorman available for selection. Having been awarded the clubs young player of the year award just last season, the lack of game time for Gorman under both Tony Cousins and now Alan Mathews has disappointed a lot of Longford supporters and they will be eager to see the former Shamrock Rovers youth come back into the team for this crunch encounter, although Haverty looks more likely to be given the nod.

As for Dave Robertson’s Sligo Rovers, the ”Bit O’Red” pulled off one of the shocks of the season when they pumped defending champions Dundalk 3-0 at Oriel Park last time out. Goals from Campion, Roberts and this seasons top goal scorer Cretaro sealed a famous win for the Connacht club but in general it has been a disappointing season for the three times League of Ireland champions. Having seen midfielder Liam Martin sent off during the first half, this result was all the more incredible for Robertson’s charges and bar the obvious suspension of Martin and minor injury doubts over Achille Campion, Gavin Peers and John Russell, the English man will be hoping to keep his starting eleven as close as possible to that of the one that kicked off in Oriel Park. A change between the posts is guaranteed however, with Michael Schlingermann confirmed as out of action with a foot injury.

As for rock bottom Longford, the club seems to have abandoned its recent efforts to deliver team news prior to matches meaning we can only go on what we know from the last game which was a fully fit squad to choose from bar long term casualties such as Cody Mulhall. Meanwhile, Eddise Dsane will be back available for selection having served his time on the sidelines for five yellow cards but with David O’Sullivan bagging a brace against Derry and Don Cowan in blistering hot form at times during the game, English striker Dsane may find his involvement coming from the bench on Friday night.

A win for the Midlanders would cut the gap at the bottom to just three points on Wexford Youths should the Youths not pick up anything against Galway United. Victory for the hosts in this N4 derby would still give Sligo the faintest of hopes in catching 4th placed Shamrock Rovers while keeping Bohemians at arms length in 6th position.

Prediction – Sligo Rovers 3-0 Longford Town. (The Midlanders dreadful recent record against Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds won’t help lift Longford’s spirits ahead of this must win game).

PREVIEW: Bohemains V Longford Town

Longford Town will make the trip to Dalymount Park on Friday night in rarely confident mood this season, having claimed only their second win of the campaign away to fellow relegation threatened Finn Harps last weekend. A Kevin O’Connor wonder goal just shy of the twenty minute mark at Finn Park on Friday night last gave Alan Mathews his first success with Town since his last stint in charge back in 2007. The Town boss will be hoping that newly found confidence carries through against a ”Bohs” side who will be facing into their second game of the week Continue reading

Mathews set to take charge of first home game

Alan Mathews will take control of his first home game as Longford Town manager since being appointed to the job for the second time. The former Cork City boss was in charge for the first time away to his former employers last Friday night and despite conceding five goals in a 5-2 defeat, there were some positives to take from the RTE live game at Turners Cross.

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