The paths of Longford Town FC and Lee Duffy have always seemed to find a way to cross in recent years. For it was the Midlands club that Duffy made his league of Ireland debut against in the First Division for Shelbourne. That 2014 season saw heartbreak for the striker as Longford went on to claim the title and promotion to the top flight despite giving ”Shels” a massive twelve point lead. It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Duffy however, as his impressive performances for the ”Reds” earned him a move to Drogheda United. Albeit only a Leinster senior cup tie, his debut would come against none other than ”De Town” in a game where the Midlanders once again came from behind prior to knocking out the Louth side via penalties.
Once again it was a disappointing team year for Duffy as his Drogheda United side were relegated to the First Division, having taken some heavy beatings along the way. Two of the key defeats that helped sealed the ”Drogs” fate were thumping 3-0 triumphs for Tony Cousins men at United Park. Just as in his season with Shelbourne though, Duffy impressed on a personal basis as he notched up 7 goals in 22 appearances which was enough to raise Tony Cousins interest and sign the young striker.
Having faced ”De Town” so many times in just a short League of Ireland career, ‘Between the Stripes ‘ asked Duffy what he made of the Longford teams he had faced:
”Longford are well organised under Tony and are a hard working team. I’m delighted to be on board I can’t wait to get going.”
While Town fans will be delighted to hear of Duffy’s enthusiasm regarding his big move, many have questioned the logic of signing two players from a relegated side and whether or not the arrivals of Duffy and Mark Hughes from the ”Drogs” can really improve the current side. When asked if lessons had been learned from last seasons relegation with Drogheda, Duffy responded with what he feels is key for the 2016 campaign if Longford want to avoid a similar finish:
”One thing I’ve learned from the relegation experience is to keep my head up and to know I can come back even stronger and better.”
He went on to speak extremely highly of former team-mate and fellow new signing Mark Hughes.
”I was delighted when I found out Mark was signing he’s a great player. Mark is a box to box midfielder, he’s a hard working player and can find a pass from anywhere on the pitch, we link up very well…He’s definitely one to keep an eye on for the coming season.”
Questions remain over where Duffy will fit in to Tony Cousins plans with the arrival of Josh O’Hanlon on loan from Bournemouth, while all-time leading goal scorer Davy O’Sullivan must surely still be seen as the teams go to man given his end of season form and overall goals record at ”CCS”. When asked as to where he sees his best performances coming from, Duffy was quick to point out his preference for a lone strikers role.
” I see myself fitting in better as a lone striker. I like playing up top on my own as I feel as if I’ve more space for myself. I don’t mine playing off a partner as well, it’s always a plus when I have somebody up top with me.”
Duffy was quick to also point out he has set himself a high goals target for the forthcoming season.
” I set myself a goal target every season and my target this season is 15 goals!”
Accommodating O’Hanlon, O’Sullivan and Duffy may prove to be a major challenge for manager Tony Cousins in 2016 and with no hints yet as to what way the boss may set out his side in the opening game away to Wexford, ‘Between the Stripes’ asked Duffy if he was worried about not having a guaranteed starting place as in seasons gone by.
”No I’m not worried, I’ll just work hard to get myself in the starting 11 every week.”
A physical and hustling centre-forward, Duffy has the attributes to become a big hit with ”De Town” faithful who may remember handing out some stick from the stands in United Park to Duffy over his ‘interesting’ hair style last seasons. The striker wrapped things up in a jovial mood as he joked:
” I’ll surprise Section O on the 4th of March with my hair style.”