With Longford Town FC’s first pre-season game just around the corner, the first team squad for the forthcoming 2016 SSE Airtricity League season has finally been announced. With no further signings expected before the big kick-off on March 4th, “De Town” look set to operate with just a twenty-two-man squad. That number is a slight reduction on recent years where twenty-three to twenty-five man squads were the norm under Tony Cousins. So who are the new faces to watch out for over the next month or so of pre-season and what do they bring to the club?
1. Ian Molloy
Former clubs: Leeds United academy, Rathcoole Boys (Leinster Senior League)
With the surprising departure of goalkeeper Paul Hunt during the off-season, Tony Cousins search for a replacement was a drawn out one and took him to England where Molloy was part of the prestigious Leeds United academy. Having also played briefly for Dublin side Rathcoole, questions over a lack of experience are sure to come Tony Cousins way but many members of the squad have already spoke of the youngsters potential and in that case it is simply going to be a case of wait and see as the eighteen-year-old arrives at City Calling Stadium.
2. Peter McGlynn
Former clubs (LOI only): Shelbourne, Drogheda United, Bray Wanderers
One of the more interesting additions to the Town squad, McGlynn arrives at Longford via Bray Wanderers but notably has had a spell in America and the MLS with San Jose Earthquakes. However, it was also in the States where McGlynn’s career went through a dark spell as he was kicked off the UCSB college team for pushing over a referee.
Last season saw McGlynn line out for Bray Wanderers in a crazy season both on and off the field as the Seagulls went from headline to headline prior to finishing just outside the top-half as well as reaching the final four of the FAI Cup. Twenty-three appearances and three goals in the process for the “Seagulls” can be regarded as a very successful season at the defender will be hoping to carry on that form for his new club in 2016.
3. Kealan Dillon
Former clubs: Hull City reserves, St.Mirren, Athlone Town, Bohemians.
If you were to select one of the new signings to get really excited about then Dillon would be the one. Arriving off the back of a fantastic fifth placed finish last season with “Bohs”, the Westhmeath dweller has the potential to add goals and assists to what looks to be quite a defensively minded Longford midfield. Despite only scoring five goals last season, Dillon has the ability to get forward and create moments of magic as seen with his goal of the season contender away to Derry in 2015. Equally capable of operating out wide or in the number ten position, Dillon could set “CCS” alight in 2016.
4. Mark Hughes
Former clubs: Athy, St.Kevin’s Boys, Belvedere, Bray Wanderers under-19’s, Scunthorpe United, Athlone Town, Drogheda United
A first-division winner with Athlone in 2013 at Longford’s expense, the twenty-three-year-old joins the “Red and Black” side of the Midlands divide hoping to get his name back up in lights having previously earned a move to Scunthorpe United in England.
Last season, simply put, was a disaster for Hughes as he was part of the Drogheda United squad relegated to the second tier. A good retainer of the ball, Hughes is one of a number of central options for Tony Cousins who will be hoping to releases of experienced midfielders Mark Salmon and Stephen Rice isn’t overly felt in the early parts of the new campaign.
5. Lee Duffy
Former clubs: Shelbourne, Drogheda United
Joining fellow “Drogs” team-mate Hughes, Lee Duffy also experienced the pain of relegation last season. The striker also missed out on promotion with “Shels” in 2014 at the expense of his new employers who eventually romped home by eight points to claim a first ever national league title.
Despite suffering relegation, Duffy had a decent season as the physical front-man netted seven times in twenty-two appearances. Having lost Gary Shaw to Shamrock Rovers, Duffy looks to be a ready-made replacement in what could be a front three next season and if he can settle quickly, expect Duffy to be a surprise package in 2016.
6. Josh O’Hanlon
Former clubs: St Kevin’s Boys, Longford Town, AFC Bournemouth
Well known to followers of “De Town”, O’Hanlon arrives on a four-month loan deal from Premier League side AFC Bournemouth. A victim of injuries and his parent clubs astonishing rise to fame, the Dubliner has failed to get a look in at the Vitality Stadium, leaving loan spells in the conference as his only option. In an interview with ‘Between the Stripes’, O’Hanlon cited a lack of game time and confidence as the main factors behind the move home and should the pacey young-striker rediscover his 2013 form with Longford, expect Tony Cousins to beg Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe to make it a season long loan.
7. John McKeown
Former clubs: Dundalk under-19’s, UCD under-19’s, Dundalk under-19’s, Maynooth Town, Cabinteely
Famed for scoring Cabinteely’s first ever LOI goal as the new boys shocked Wexford Youths on the opening day of last season, McKeown will be hoping to upset Shane Keegan’s men again when Longford travel to Ferrycarrig Park on March 4th.
Six goals from midfield last term highlight a real eye for goal although the step up from bottom of the First Division to a Premier Division side will worry some. The first name on the team-sheet at “Cabo”, McKeown will have to battle it out with the likes of Kevin O’Connor, Phillip Gannon, Mark Hughes and Kealan Dillon for a starting berth with Longford but should he manage to adjust to this higher level, he could be a very useful addition.
8. Dan O’Reilly
Former clubs: Cherry Orchard, Fulham FC, Hereford United, Bray Wanderers
Announced just moments ago, Dan O’Reilly arrives from Bray where he operated at left-back although he is equally apt at centre-half. Signing for Fulham at just the age of 15, O’Reilly’s talent is undoubted although the off-field madness at Bray last season only saw him make 14 first-team appearances at the Carlise Ground.
With Conor Powell having an up and down campaign in 2015, O’Reilly’s arrival should put the pressure on the former Shamrock Rovers man and in turn improve the squad as a whole.