After a week of hard training following a 2-1 win away to Cabinteely, Longford Town’s pre-season schedule rolls on with a long trip to County Cork where First Division outfit Cobh Ramblers will offer the opposition at St.Colman’s Park. There have been many memorable encounters to say the least between these two sides on this ground, with a couple of 4-3 scorelines being exchanged during “De Town’s” recent First Division days while at City Calling Stadium, Tony Cousins side can boast about a smashing 7-2 victory back in 2013 while a crucial Peter Hynes strike helped settle a 3-1 scoreline on the way to the title just two seasons ago for Longford. With the Midlands outfit operating with an extremely open but exciting 4-3-3 formation so far in pre-season, you can expect another high scoring encounter this time around on the Island.
Something on a trend has developed so far in the friendlies Longford have played with former players facing a Town side they use to serve and in the shape of goalkeeper Paul Hunt, this game offers the new Cobh ‘keeper the chance to show Tony Cousins he perhaps made a rash decision in letting the 2014 league winner go so easily. While Hunt may not have always been every supporters choice for the number one jersey during his five-plus-year spell in the Midlands, the Cork native did break the consecutive clean sheets record at Longford in 2014 and that played a major role in the team climbing back from a poor start to eventually beat Shelbourne to the title. Former St.Pat’s reserve ‘keeper Hunt also boasted a fantastic record in penalty shoot-outs for “De Town” and that has continued quickly with his new club as Hunt was the hero in a recent spot-kick decider versus College Corinthians in the Munster Senior Cup.
It could prove to be a busy reunion for Hunt on Saturday afternoon with Longford having scored four goals so far in pre-season while their attacking players have created several goal scoring opportunities. Having rotated slightly for the recent game against “Cabo” many will expect Tony Cousins to field as close to a full strength side as possible, with a few injuries still prohibiting him from selecting the team he may wish to line out. Pat Flynn continues on the comeback trail, although it is unlikely we will see him get any game time before the opening league game of the campaign while as of yet there is no word on the seriousness or otherwise regarding striker Josh O’Hanlon’s injury as he missed the game away to “Cabo” having limped off at home to Limerick. In somewhat of a sideshow, speculation continues to rage online over the future of former Shamrock Rovers man Don Cowan. A key member of the victorious 2014 side, Cowan had initially been announced as Longford’s number nine on the squad list released on the official club website, however, having not appeared at all in pre-season due to a well-known injury issue and now appearing to no longer feature on said squad list, many Town fans have begun to ask questions of Cowan’s status, but with no information coming out of the club that is a debate which many rage on for a few more days or weeks yet.
Saturday’s opponents Cobh are being tipped as dark horses by many League of Ireland followers this season for a tilt at promotion to a top flight they last occupied in 2008. With former Waterford United supremo Stephen Henderson now at the helm and a number of high profile signings arriving at St Colman’s Park, the “Rams” should offer Longford a supreme challenge this weekend.
As already mentioned, the arrival of Paul Hunt should not only help bring a degree of experience to the camp but a winning mentality also having been part of a team that recently unlocked the key to winning this division. The additions of highly rated Corey and Evan Galvin from Munster rivals Waterford United not only brings a touch of class to the Cobh dressing room, with the brothers both having played in English football quite recently, but it also dents any momentum being built under Roddy Collins at the RSC, which frankly appears to be very little given their atrocious displays in pre-season to date. Perhaps one of the most surprising signings of the transfer window has been Cobh’s capture of Rob Lehane from local rivals Cork City. Striker Lehane has been one of the most highly thought of talents in Cork football for quite a while and his arrival at St.Colman’s has really fired out a signal of intent from the 2007 second tier champions. The final notable signing for the Islanders was the return of full-back Andy O’Connell to the club. Having played Premier Division football under Tommy Dunne at Galway United last term, not too many would have expected O’Connell to want a return to the “graveyard division” but that’s exactly what the former College Corinthians man has done as Cobh Ramblers look to return to the top flight for the first time in eight long years.
Cobh Ramblers: Corey Galvin doubtful due to injury. No other news to report.
Longford Town: Pat Flynn remains out of playing action while the status of Josh O’Hanon remains unknown following a knock VS Limerick.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI’S:
DATE: Saturday, 13th February.
VENUE: St. Colman’s Park
KICK-OFF: 2:00 PM
ADMISSION: Five euro.