EXCLUSIVE: Brilly returns to Athlone ahead of tonight’s squad announcement

Article by Kieran Burke – @KieranBTS.

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After much speculation and questions from both Athlone and League of Ireland fans in general,  Athlone Town AFC last night revealed to Between the Stripes that manager Aaron Callaghan will reveal his senior squad for the 2018 First Division season tonight (Monday 05/02/18). However, Between the Stripes can exclusively reveal that former Longford Town and Cabinteely defender Aaron Brilly has agreed to return to the club he left for Home Farm last season.

Brilly (21), departed Athlone mid-season with the Midlands club gripped in the midst of a match-fixing scandal involving two of its foreign players, Igors Labuts and Dragos Sfrijan, who were subsequently banned for 12 months each by the FAI in a controversial case. With Athlone glued to the foot of the second tier and Brilly strangely being over looked by then manager Ricardo Monsanto on a consistent basis, the youngster decided to cut ties with the club and soon signed for Dublin based Home Farm.

Despite his tender years, Brilly is already a well traveled player in terms of the number of clubs he has represented. Starting out with Longford Town’s under 19’s in 2012, Brilly’s leadership qualities were evident long before he was named as captain of the underage side whom he would represent proudly until his departure from the club in May 2014. Having impressed Town boss Tony Cousins enough to earn a handful of senior appearances during his time with the club, it was a surprise to many Longford supporters that Brilly was shown the door by the former Galway manager.

A spell with Northern Irish Football League club Newry City was to follow before the Dubliner arrived at Cabinteely in time for their inaugural season in the League of Ireland. Brilly played in ‘’Cabo’s’’ famous opening day win over Wexford Youths and went on to make nineteen appearances for the Stradbrook club that season. Twenty-six appearances were to follow in 2016 before Brilly made the decision to join Athlone in February of last year.

Ahead of Aaron Callaghan’s squad announcement tonight it appears as if Brilly may be joined by two more former Longford Town FC players as Kaleem Simon and Etanda Nkololo both scored for the ‘‘ Blue and Black’’ in a 2-1 pre-season win over Lucan United at the weekend. Simon had only recently been on trial with Premier Division outfit Limerick, while Nkololo was a league winner with Longford in 2014 and starred for Athlone following his summer arrival at the club last season.

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BREAKING: Ogbene completes Brentford switch

Article by Kieran Burke – @KieranBTS.

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Image via Brentfordfc.com

Chiedozie Ogbene‘s brief yet immensely impressive spell in League of Ireland football came to an end this morning with confirmation of the twenty-year-old’s transfer to Brentford from Limerick for an undisclosed fee.  Continue reading

Ogbene set for Brentford switch

Article by Kieran Burke – @KieranBTS. 

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With the January transfer window soon set to shut, Limerick FC fans hope of holding on to star asset Chiedozie Ogbene ahead of the 2018 SSE Airtricity League season had begun to increase, however the twenty-one-year-old’s future now does indeed seem to be away from the Market Fields with Brentford agreeing a fee for the midfielder. According to Limerick Leader reporter Andrew Cunneen, the London club have agreed a fee with Limerick and Ogbene is currently over with the “Bees” to complete a medical.

If the news of Ogbene’s impending switch wasn’t enough for Limerick’s loyal followers, Cunneen also revealed some worrying updates on the futures of Barry Cotter and Henry Cameron.  Continue reading

Joey O’Brien is a Hoop!

Article by Kieran Burke – @KieranBTS

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Shamrock Rovers have continued the clubs recent trend of signing former Republic of Ireland internationals with the arrival of former West Ham United star Joey O’Brien. The thirty-one-year-old, who has not had a club since departing the Londoners in June 2016, made five appearances in the Green of Ireland between 2006 and 2012 but was not a member of Giovanni Trapattoni’s European Championship squad.

A graduate of Bolton Wanderers youth system, O’Brien signed his first professional contract for Sam Allardyce’s Wanderers and went on to make fifty appearances for Bolton from 2004-2011. Initially starting out as a central midfield player, the Dublin native soon became a regular at right-back for current Everton boss Allardyce, who described O’Brien as the “most dominant right-back in the Premiership.”

However, in what would soon become a reoccurring theme throughout the defenders career, injuries were starting to restrict O’Brien’s game time and following a loan spell away from Bolton with Sheffield United, O’Brien was released upon his return to the Lancashire club.

Despite that set back, O’Brien had done enough to encourage Premier League interest in his signature and following a trial with West Ham United he put pen-to-paper on a two-year contract at Upton Park. Going on to feature ninety-one times from 2011-2016 for the “Hammers”, O’Brien was a member of the West Ham side that defeated Blackpool in the Championship play-off final at Wembley in the 2011-12 season.

As a result, O’Brien would earn a first Ireland call-up in over four-years in August 2012, as the Dubliner replaced the stricken Sean St.Ledger for a home friendly against Serbia. This would prove to be O’Brien’s last recognition at international level.

Speaking to Shamrockrovers.ie, O’Brien revealed his allegiance as a “Hoops” supporter and stated his move back to Ireland as the key reason for signing with the Tallaght club.

“I’m buzzing to be here and get going. It happened over a short period of time, I made contact with the club and luckily it got over the line. I was moving back home with my family so it was a logical thing, I support Shamrock Rovers.
I’m a Rovers fan and I wanted to get playing and come back here. This is the place to be. Last season I was at Rovers games and I’ve watched them a few times.
I’ll speak to the manager and get to know the players. It’s about becoming part of the squad, I definitely bring the age up! I like to think I’ve been around a while and have good experience of playing at certain levels. Hopefully the way I go about training and off the pitch as well, some of the younger lads can learn from working with me.
It was fantastic at West Ham, apart from the last year where it didn’t work out for me. But that’s what happens. Then I was up at Bolton , I still have contacts there from when I started. It was just a nice fit at the time to try and get fit. I played a couple of games but competitively is what it’s all about, it’s been a while since I played in matches. I’ve put in a lot of hours into getting to this situation. Hopefully now I’ll go to Portugal (for the Atlantic Cup) and get a good bit of training in before the season starts.
Coming back to play in Ireland was always on the radar, even going back five or six years, if I could have played for Rovers that was always the thing. It’s worked out that way now. The coaching side of things appeals to me but not yet, in a few years maybe. Initially it’s about playing. When I spoke to Stephen that’s what I wanted to put across. I’ve been to Rovers-Bohs games over the years as a supporter in the Rovers end so it’ll be nice to be out there playing.”

Clearly delighted upon the capture of his new star, Rovers boss Stephen Bradley did admit O’Brien’s injuries in the past as a concern when also speaking to the clubs official website.

“He’s a great signing for us. I believe Joey and his family have been Rovers fans all their lives, so it was an easy sell when he got in contact a few months back. We sat down and had a chat and he trained with us for a while before he had to go back to England to do a few things. When he made the phone call to say he wanted to get it done it was great for both of us.

 

He’s been getting to know us and vice versa. I think he brings a great experience to the squad. He’s played at such a high level throughout his career. With the group we have, he’s just the right character and right quality. You see at Roadstone the whole club is based there.  So the Under 8’s will see the first team and I think it’s great when they come in and see the likes of Joey walking around and they can meet him and get to know him.

 

Any player we’ve signed this year we’ve been thinking can he play in two or three positions. We haven’t nailed down anyone in certain positions. Everyone can see how good Ethan Boyle is so bringing in Joey will only help the likes of Ethan and the centre-backs, because Joey can play there or midfield as well. That was part of the reason of why he appealed to us, he can cover a lot of areas.

 

We’re all well aware of Joey’s history with injuries and Joey was very open and honest about it as well. We went into this with our eyes open. If we can get Joey on the pitch and look after him in training he’ll be a massive asset to the club, what he brings to the dressing room and the training pitch. It’s the whole package. He’s been through the mill in terms of games and injuries, we know that but we just have to manage him.

 

Coaching is something we spoke about with Joey but it’s very clear that he wants to play. I’d imagine at some point he will go down that road because he sees the game and understands the game. It’s a natural progression but right now he’s very clear and adamant that he wants to play games and he sees himself doing that for a few years. That was key in the conversation with Joey, that he’s here to play football and do nothing else. For me that showed a really strong focus to go back and enjoy playing his football.”

O’Brien follows in the footsteps of fellow former Ireland stars Damien Duff, Stephen McPhail and Keith Fahey who all ended their playing careers with Ireland’s most decorated football club.

Faysel Kasmi joins Waterford FC on a one-year deal

Article by Andrew Dempsey – @andrewdempsey921.

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Between the Stripes is sponsored by FloMax.ie

Waterford FC have announced the capture of former Jupiler Pro League attacking midfield star Faysel Kasmi on a one-year deal at the RSC. Kasmi, 22 joins up with Alan Reynolds’ charges as the 19th man to join up with the first team squad ahead of the 2018 Premier Division season in waiting.

An attacking midfielder by trade, the Belgian of Moroccan descent has plenty of experience to offer having competed amongst the top table of Belgian football with the likes of Standard Liege in recent years.

Having joined Lierse SK’s first team following a stint in the JMG Academy Lier, Kasmi spent many spells away from Lierse SK on loan with the likes of  Standard Liege who are ten-time Belgian Premier League winners as well as Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia who are consistent competitors in the Europa League Qualifying Rounds.

Going on loan consistently may make Kasmi be seen as a journeyman sort of player but despite this, whilst only a tender 19 years, the Belgian made his European bow in a Europa League qualifier for Standard Liege as the Belgian side recorded a one-nil first leg aggregate victory over Bosnian side FK Zeljeznicar Sarajevo in a 3rd round qualifier.

On his return to Lierse SK in the 2014/15 season, Kasmi saw himself relegated alongside his teammates before he set off on another loan spell to Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia before returning ahead of the 2016/17 season.

Failing to break into the first team at the Herman Vanderpoortenstadion stadium with Lierse on his return, Kasmi spent the remaining days of his spell in Belgian football languishing with the Lierse SK reserves before he decided to move sticks and join up with a free spending Waterford FC side who are preparing for their return to the Premier Division after an absence of 10 years from the top tier of Irish club football.

 

Daire Doyle expresses his delight upon O’Connor’s arrival

New Longford Town signing Shane O’Connor (right) pictured with manager Neale Fenn.

Article by Kieran Burke – @KieranBTS.

Speaking exclusively to Between the Stripes earlier today, Longford Town’s new assistant manager Daire Doyle expressed his delighted following last nights capture of former Ipswich Town and Waterford FC midfielder Shane O’Connor. A First Division winner with Alan Reynold’s Waterford last term, O’Connor is just twenty-seven but has already played for eight clubs including some pretty big ones in the likes of Shamrock Rovers and Cork City, while the midfielder has experience abroad with Port Vale and in Northern Ireland with Portadown.  Continue reading

Longford Town sign Darren Meenan and Evan Galvin

Article by Andrew Dempsey – @AndrewDempsey2

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Neale Fenn has made a serious statement of intent for the 2018 First Division season in waiting with the double signing of former Shamrock Rovers man Darren Meenan and Evan Galvin who was formerly of Longford’s First Division rivals Cabinteely.

31-year-old Darren Meenan joins looking to help Longford Town on their way back to the Premier Division at the second time of asking.

Meenan will be a welcome addition to Neale Fenn’s young squad as the experienced wide midfielder has had plenty of match experience at League of Ireland level over the past 12 seasons for the likes of St. Patrick’s Athletic, UCD, Drogheda United, Sligo Rovers and Shelbourne as well as his two previous clubs Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers. Most notably Meenan has three Premier Division titles to his name thanks to his time under Stephen Kenny and Longford fans will be hoping that winning mentality will transfer over similarly to how ex-Rovers trio Pat Flynn, Stephen Rice and Pat Sullivan famously did in 2014 with the Midlanders.

The signing will come as a bit of a surprise to many Longford Town and League of Ireland fans in general as there had been much talk of Meenan testing the waters abroad with Belgian side RDWM. However, this seems to have fallen by the wayside and left Longford Town ready to pounce on his signature.

Also making the switch to the City Calling stadium is former Cabinteely FC star Evan Galvin who has swapped the capital for a spell in the midlands with the Red and Black.

Galvin, who is a 21-year-old midfielder, signs for Neale Fenn’s charges having enjoyed a positive year last season with Cabinteely as the former Waterford and Cobh Ramblers man played an integral role in Cabo’s record breaking 2017 season.

With Town fans crying out for some transfer activity in recent weeks, the news of this double-signing will be a welcome boost to the Longford Town faithful who are most certainly longing for a return to the Premier Division