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Flancare Park faithful dream of return to topflight football

Longford Town Season 2012 preview for extratime.ie

http://extratime.ie/newsdesk/articles/7466/longford-town-preview-2012/

Last season: Sixth (First Division)

In: Noel Haverty (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Karl Bermingham (Shelbourne), Craig Hyland (Shamrock Rovers), Gary Shaw (Bray Wanderers), Colm James (Shelbourne), Alan Kirby (Sligo Rovers)

Out: Jean Biansumba (Released), Thomas Hyland (Released), Alvin Rouse (Released), Darragh Satelle (Released)

Manager: Tony Cousins

Stadium: Flancare Park

The landscape in this season’s First Division is very different from last year. Longford Town will be hoping that they can capitalise on these changes in their bid for promotion. With former First Division heavyweights like Shelbourne and Cork City, along with Monaghan United, now in the Premier Division, and only seven other teams in the league, Longford are expected to be challenging at the top of the, admittedly small, table.

However, Limerick FC are the odds on favourites for the one available automatic promotion spot following some eye catching signings including former Irish international Dominic Foley. Meanwhile, Longford also have their own international player in their squad with Keith Gillespie, capped 86 times for the North, signed up for another season. Whilst top spot may be beyond Tony Cousins’ Longford side, a finish in second or third spot will give them a shot in the promotion/relegation playoffs, most likely alongside Waterford United.

Most of last season’s squad has been re-signed and Cousins has also made some good acquisitions for ‘The Town’ during the close season. Longford fans are delighted that the experienced Alan Kirby, signed from Sligo Rovers, has returned to the club where he won two FAI Cups earlier in his career. Longford’s success could well depend on Kirby and Gillespie building a good midfield partnership with expectations high for both players.

Cousins has added further experience with former Shelbourne player Colm James coming in from Shelbourne, like Kirby, for his second spell at the club. Texas born Jamie Duffy, winner of the First Division title with both Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk, has signed from Newry City adding to the creativity in midfield on the pitch and the vocal talent off the pitch (Duffy is a member of boy band ‘Boulevard’!).

Cousins has signed strikers Gary Shaw and Karl Bermingham who scored over 25 league goals in the First Division during two seasons with Monaghan. This should help overcome their goalscoring problems from last season when they could only score 38 goals in 30 league games with their top goalscorer coming from midfield as Mark Salmon got 10 goals.

The pieces are all there for Cousins to build on and there would be real disappointment if his team didn’t make the playoffs at least. The Flancare Park faithful are dreaming of a return to topflight football with Longford beginning the campaign away in Fahy’s Field against Mervue United.

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