Cobh Ramblers visit Longford Town on Saturday for our first away trip of the 2017 season. The Midland side suffered relegation from the Premier Division last year and will be looking to bounce back with immediate effect under boss Alan Mathews. Longford have invested heavily in their playing squad during the off-season, bringing in the likes of Mark Langtry, Enda Curran, Stephen Walsh, Dean Zambra and Dylan McGlade. With such an experienced squad at their disposal, the men in red and black will no doubt be pushing for promotion over the course of the campaign.
Ramblers remain without Darren Murphy (ankle) and Cian Kingston (hamstring). There are also doubts over Michal Sadys (flu), Jason Abbott (flu) and last week’s goalscorer Dean Swords (hamstring).
Cobh come into the tie having drawn our first game of the season 1-1 at home to Wexford. Manager Stephen Henderson was vocal in his criticism of the South East club and their manager Damien Locke as they played on when Cobh had put the ball out of play due to an injury to captain Chris McCarthy. With the Ramblers defence expecting the ball to be played back to them, Wexford played on and grabbed a dramatic equaliser through Lee Duffy. The goal cancelled out the earlier stunning goal by new-signing Dean Swords who had smashed a 25 yard free-kick into the Wexford goal. Longford also picked up a point during the season’s opening weekend, drawing 0-0 at Shelbourne.
As this is Cobh’s final game before our upcoming Q&A with Irish legend Roy Keane on March 10th, it seems fitting to mention his time at the club. Keano played against Longford twice while at Ramblers during the 1989/90 season. The Manchester United legend spent St Stephen’s day of 1989 in Longford as Cobh came away with a 2-2 draw. A few weeks later on January 14th, Keane and his teammates were 1-0 victors at home the Midland side in St Colman’s Park.
The game marks a return to Longford for Cobh goalkeeper Paul Hunt, who spent five seasons with the club from 2010 to 2015. Speaking ahead of the game, the netminder is aware of the difficult task at hand,
“We know it’s going to be a tough game up there. Longford are a good side this year and it’s a tough place for teams to go. I fully believe however that if this team plays the way that we can, we are more than capable of beating any team in this league.”
Kick-off in the City Calling Stadium is at 19:30 on Saturday night.