Daire Doyle raring to go as Longford await sprint finish to First Division campaign

Sat, Jul 25 2020

Daire Doyle Credit: Larry McQuillan (ETPhotos)

Longford Town boss Daire Doyle admits both he and his side are raring to go ahead of the sprint finish that awaits in the First Division.

The second tier, which has already seen three fixture lists – has been pushed back to just 18 games – but Doyle is still relishing the challenge that awaits his side.

We head into (the restart) in good knick. We have very few injuries and there’s the possibility of one or two players coming back from injury in the coming weeks. We’re raring to go and we’ll be ready for Friday,” he told extratime.com.  

“It will be huge to have a player like Dean Byrne back. It was a massive coup for us to retain his services this season.

“When you look at someone who had the injury that he had early in the year, he’s only missed one game at the moment and has been closely monitored.

“We’d be very hopeful that in two weeks’ time he’ll be back in full training with the group. If we can have a player like Dean available for selection again it will give me a headache for picking the team but they’re headaches you like to have because he’s a huge player and one of the best in the league.”

Longford enjoyed a positive start to the season, with two wins from two aiding De Town’s early optimism. However, the 39-year-old admits the momentum built up a few months ago is now gone.

“Every club will see it as starting afresh and we’re no different,” he adds. “We started off well and we’ll look to pick up from where we left off.

“The lads are in the condition they need to be in to do that. We can’t wait to get started and getting in and keeping our run going and being up there again.”

But Longford’s return will be different to the setting they left in their last league game back in March – something that Doyle and his players are beginning to get used to.

“The very first game we played (post-shutdown) was against Shels – it was very strange. We were given three dressing rooms and we weren’t allowed more than seven in a dressing room.

“The normal pre-match routine was more or less ripped up compared to what it was.

“It’s not ideal but it’s better (now) than the first week or two when we were back in pre-season. It’s not what we’re used to, but we’ll make the best of it and ensure that we’re ready to go.”

He continued: “The lads came back (at the start of July) and they were possibly fitter than they were when they finished pre-season in February, so they really looked after themselves and they’re raring to go.”

While the challenge of UCD is first up on July 31st – the Red and Black are pencilled in to play up to ten games in just 31 days.

However, the Longford supremo is confident of the depth he has in his squad to combat this: “If we get the result, we hope to get against Cork we could have 10 games in 31 days.

“We do have a good squad with quality and depth. I think the new ruling has come in with the use of five subs and I think with a squad as strong as ours in the First Division we’ll have to make full use of it.

“I’ve got no hesitation bringing any player in because as far as I’m concerned, we’ve competition in every position.

“I’m sure we’ll use the full squad; it may mean that our training sessions may be lighter for recovery but that’s going to be the case for most clubs.

He added: “We’ll go there (to Cork) confident. We’ve got a lot of players who would like to consider themselves at a level where they could compete in the Premier (Division).

“The real stuff for us is performing in the league and making sure that we’re in a position where we’re near the top end of the table so we can get to the Premier.

“I see it as an opportunity for the players to show how good we are, and should we perform we could be in for getting the result we want.”

And while the challenge of the coming month has been laid bare to De Town in the coming weeks, Doyle admits that his side do find themselves in a great position ahead of the season’s impending restart.

“We want to win the league and we’re not going to make a secret about that,” he concludes. “To win the league we’re going to have to win the majority of games, so we want to do that.

“We’ve had a great start so that does set us up nicely. With some of the teams not having the starts they would’ve liked it puts us in a strong position, but you could say the same with Cabinteely.

“Anyone who’s had a start like us, and Cabinteely will feel confident if they can maintain that for another 15 or sixteen games.

“Consistency and the use of the group is going to be key to ensure that we’re able to do that. We’re really positive that we can perform and do what we need to do.”