Article by Kieran Burke – @KieranBTS
Longford Town will open their eagerly anticipated 2018 SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign at home to last seasons runners up Cobh Ramblers on Saturday, February 24th.
On paper this looks to be an incredibly difficult opening task for Neale Fenn’s Longford and last seasons head to head record against the ‘’Rams’’ certainly backs that up. In four league meetings last season ‘’De Town’’ only came out on top once and that was under the stewardship of interim boss Gary Cronin. In the three other meetings Cobh beat Longford at the City Calling Stadium twice and towards the tail end of the season at St.Colman’s Park. In fact, one of Cobh’s two away wins over Longford came in what was ‘’De Town’s’’ first home game of the season, perhaps a bad omen for supporters of the Midlands club ahead of February’s 2018 curtain raiser.
Speaking exclusively to Between the Stripes following Tuesday’s fixture list release, Longford Town manager Neale Fenn couldn’t contain his excitement to get back to the job he took up midway through the 2017, following the sacking of Alan Mathews.
‘’Yes it’s a tough start, Cobh at home will be difficult but we’ll be ready by then, got plenty of friendlies lined up to prepare so we’ll be raring to go.’’
As for Cobh boss Stephen Henderson, the popular League of Ireland manager also spoke exclusively to Between the Stripes and was quick to stress how last seasons results against Fenn’s side now mean nothing.’’
‘’Last year is done, it (The head to head record V Longford in 2017) will have no bearing on this season. Longford will be challenging for automatic promotion so it is a very difficult start for us but one we will look forward to.’’
Former Waterford United chief Henderson went onto speak of the importance of focus within the Cobh camp once the new season does indeed get underway.
‘’I’m happy we have such a difficult start, it really does help focus the minds of coaches and players. We will do what we always do, be competitive, have a plan and see where it takes us.’’