Longford Town through to promotion/relegation playoff after victory over Galway United

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‘De Town’ ran out 2-1 winners on the night

Longford were tipped as one of the favourites for the Irish First Division title before the season commenced. Their title hopes weren’t fulfilled in the end as they finished 4th. They do, however, have a second chance of promotion following their 2-1 win over Galway yesterday.

Their win against Galway in the playoff final yesterday means they are now guaranteed a place in the promotion/relegation playoff. All their hard work this season will culminate next Saturday as they aim for their first promotion since 2014. Their opponents will be decided in the coming days after the Premier Division seasons is wrapped up. Finn Harps are their opponents as it stands, but that could change based on various results. The other two teams in the mix are Derry City and Shelbourne.

The match was played at the UCD Bowl. Longford had only frequented the same stadium a week before as they defeated UCD on their way to the final.

Galway United were tipped as slight favourites prior to the game given their recent form and resurgence under the helm of John Caulfield. You wouldn’t think so given their first half performance, however.

Longford manager Daire Doyle had his team firmly in control for long periods of the first half. They controlled play as Galway consistently struggled to retain possession. Galway were unable to cope with the relentless pressing of the midlanders resulting in several inaccurate passes. Aodh Dervin was particularly impressive as he marshalled the midfield area with his impressive work rate and passing range.

The Longford pressure nearly told in the 16th minute as a long-range effort from Dylan Grimes rattled the woodwork. Grimes isn’t impartial to a wondergoal as he’s shown his ability from range during the regular season. He was very unlucky on this occasion.

Both teams struggled to create clear cut chances throughout the half despite Longford largely dominating. It looked as though the first half would end scoreless. That is until the 43rd minute. Aaron McNally’s cross was poorly dealt with by Galway keeper Micheál Schlingermann before falling to the feet of Karl Chambers. Chambers made no mistake as he tapped the ball into an empty net.

Chambers is the longest serving senior member of the Longford Town squad having joined the senior setup in 2015. He should be elated with his performance as his goal only added to an already impressive display of pressing.

John Caulfield was obviously very unsatisfied with the first half performance as he made no less than two changes at the break. Conor Barry and Wilson Waweru – who scored the decisive goal in the playoff semi-final – were brought on.

Galway looked much better at the start of the second half, pressing with more intensity and keeping the ball well on occasion. Chances were still slim, though, as both teams failed to create many opportunities of note. Maybe that was a sign of the tension radiating from both camps.

Galway nearly got their equalizer in the 71st minute. Former Longford man Carlton Ubaezuono was another sub brought on by Caulfield and it didn’t take him long to make an impression. He delivered a dangerous cross into the box from the left wing, but the ball just evaded an incoming Shane Doherty. It surely would have been a goal if Doherty made sufficient contact.

It wasn’t long afterwards when Longford got their 2nd goal to solidify their lead. The aforementioned Aodh Dervin unleashed a shot from 30 years which whistled into the bottom left. Dervin was undoubtably man of the match in a fixture which he described as the biggest of his career so far. He put in an imperious midfield performance which has become a norm for the local hero at this stage. There were rumours of Premier Division clubs being interested in his signature last season and that may well be the case again after tonight’s performance.

To their credit, Galway didn’t slow down after the Longford goal was scored. Their determination resulted in a Vinny Faherty strike in the 88th minute to pull back the deficit. The goal came as a result of less than convincing goalkeeping from Lee Steacy. Steacy has been ever-present for Longford over the past couple of years, but could have done better on this occasion.

A tense few minutes followed as Galway attacked with all their might and Longford did similarity defensively. Longford had their backs to the walls for the remaining minutes. The time kept ticking in what would have felt like an eternity for Daire Doyle and his men.

After an unnerving few moments for both teams, the referee blew his whistle after 4 minutes of added time. Longford players roared in relief as the Galway players appeared dejected.

As mentioned beforehand, Longford will now look forward to Saturday’s promotion/relegation playoff. They’ll face the 9th placed Premier Division team on the night. Both clubs will have so much on the line come Saturday in what promises to be a fascinating affair.

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