After a long off-season, Longford Town FC will finally get their pre-season schedule underway on Wednesday night when relegated Limerick FC come to town. Despite the step down in league status for the “Super Blues” it’s not all doom and gloom for Limerick as they have been installed as odds on bookies favorites to win the First Division in 2016.
Unlike Longford, who have brought in eight new senior signings ahead of the 2016 SSE Airtricity League campaign, Martin Russell has not been as busy in the transfer market to date with the only real additions of note to date being the return of Garbhan Coughlan to the club while Chris Mulhall has arrived from UCD AFC. Despite the lack of incomings at the Market Fields, this Limerick FC side still hold some real glimpses of talent with goalkeeper Freddie Hall one of the top performers in the Premier Division last season while full-back Shane Treacy has one of the deadliest set-piece arsenals in the entire country. Elsewhere the likes of Shane Duggan and Robbie Williams in particular hold experiences of English football while central midfielder Paul O’Conor was regarded as one of the best in the league during his spell with Drogheda, although he has since suffered difficult spells with Sligo Rovers and current club Limerick.
While new Longford strength and conditioning coach Declan “Fabio” O’Brien has been busy putting “De Town” players through their paces in recent weeks, Limerick FC already hold 120 minutes of competitive football under their belts having beaten Munster Senior League side Cobh Wanderers after extra-time over the weekend. Former Longford Town wide-man Martin Deady was on the score-sheet for the Cork based side on Sunday afternoon as Martin Russell fielded an extremely strong starting XI in the competition the “Super Blues” won last season.
Wednesday’s friendly match will offer Longford Town fans the first opportunity to see how Tony Cousins may set up his side for the forthcoming season with rumours circulating that the former Galway United boss may be looking at using a 4-3-3 formation this season. Ian Molloy, Dan O’Reilly, Peter McGlynn, John McKeown, Kealan Dillon, Lee Duffy and Mark Hughes will all be set to trot out in the ‘Red and Black’ of Longford for the first time while Josh O’Hanlon will be set to make his first CCS appearance in almost three-years as he returns on loan from AFC Bournemouth until June.
While these matches are of course more about building fitness, familiarity and tweaking tactics, many will see Limerick as one of the classier pre-season opponents for Longford and it will be interesting to see how Tony Cousins men deal with Martin Russsell’s passing football design. Expect a number of the under-19 players who have been announced as signing for the first-team to feature on Wednesday night with local lads Dylan McGeoy and Darragh Doherty hoping to get a chance to represent their local club in front of a home crowd. Meanwhile, Limerick manager Martin Russell has confirmed his intention to field a number of trialists in the games against both Longford and Bray Wanderers respectively. Speaking in an official Limerick FC press release, Russell had this to say ahead of Wednesday nights game:
“We’re without the three players again; we’ll be having a look at one or two guest players and some younger players, as part of our preparations for the season,”
Stating his expectations and hopes for the Longford friendly, the former UCD boss said to Limerickfc.ie:
“I think the other teams will be the same, having a look at players in different areas and that. We are still a little bit off the start of the season; after this week we’ve got three more friendlies plus the next round of the Munster Senior Cup to fine-tune things for the start of the league.
“As a start, Saturday was okay. We see things that we have got to work on. We haven’t done a lot on crossing, shooting and finishing, which wasn’t great on the day, but it was our first game and we’ll take what we can out of it.”
Following Wednesday’s game, which kicks-off at 7:30PM, “De Town” will then focus on Friday’s trip to the capital and a first ever meeting with Cabinteely. A draining journey to Cobh is then on the cards as it also was last year before home ties against rivals Athlone and Galway with the RSC being the final stop on the pre-season tour just as it was last year also.
Longford Town: N/A
Injured: Shane Duggan, Shaun Kelly, John O’Flynn
Referee: Ray Mathews (Dublin)