Youths and Town meet for second time
We may only be a matter of weeks into the new season, but on Monday night "De Town" have the opportunity to book a cup semi-final berth as they face Wexford Youths in the last eight of the LFA Leinster Senior Cup (Kick-off 8:0oPM). Given the dreadful weather conditions over the weekend, which saw a number of games in both the men's and women's domestic leagues called off, this game had been in major doubt with Ferrycarrig Park taking on major water. As a result, Carlow I.T. was put forward as an alternative venue but this morning, just hours before kick-off, it emerged that Longford were unhappy with having to play on a plastic pitch, which only threw the game into further doubt. However, early this afternoon, it was confirmed on the Midlanders social media accounts that the game would now take place, as Longford and Wexford get set to lock horns for the second time this season.
Given Longford's major injury crisis of present, you can understand why manager Tony Cousins may be apprehensive of playing an unwanted game on such a surface, with Kealon Dillon the latest Town player to limp off on Friday night at Dalymount Park. Before the 2016 campaign even kicked-off, Longford lost the crucial services of last seasons young player of the year Rhys Gorman in frustrating circumstances, while exciting new addition Lee Duffy also fell to serious injury in pre-season. It's been in the back four where Longford have suffered most, with Conor Powell, Noel Haverty, Mark Rossiter and Pat Flynn all spending time in the stands through injury and suspensions, while the experienced Kevin O'Connor also saw red recently against Bray Wanderers. The return of Don Cowan, during Friday's 2-0 defeat to "Bohs", was a major boost to Cousins and Town followers, but the former Galway United manager will be extremely mindful not to rush the rampaging winger back too quickly given his poor fitness record.
Tonight's opponents also have medical headaches of their own, with Peter Higgins, Aidan Keenan and Shane Dunne all sitting out this contest. Popular manager Shane Keegan is widely expected to field a side mainly made up of under-19 and fringe team players with the likes of Danny Furlong and Paul Murphy set to be rested for Friday's daunting trip to Turners Cross.
As mentioned, "De Town" ran out 2-0 winners on the opening day of the season over newly promoted Wexford and given Tony Cousins side are yet to win (excluding this competition) since then, he will be aiming for his side to pick up some much needed confidence ahead of massive league encounters versus Dundalk, Derry City and Sligo Rovers.
2014 runners-up, Longford reached this stage of the competition thanks to a hard fought victory over non-league side Drumcondra at City Calling Stadium, while Wexford came back to beat First Division outfit Athlone Town and deny the locals an "El Clasico" showdown. Tonight's visitors have never won this competition, nor have the Youths who's only senior cup final to date remains a 6-1 hammering at home to Derry City in the 2008 League Cup.
With Bohemians and Dundalk also facing off this evening in the competition, both Wexford and Town will be viewed as outsiders to pick up the trophy in 2016, but with game time on offer for both clubs youth stars, this competition offers both clubs an ideal opportunity to continue the development of such players and both managers will be eager to extend this cup run with victory tonight.
PREDICTION: DRAW - To be settled from twelve-yards.
Bookies odds - Wexford 7/5, draw1 1/5 , Longford 13/8
- Injured - Higgins, Keenan and Dunne.
- Suspensions - None.
- Injured - Rossiter, Powell, Dillon, Gorman and Duffy.
- Suspensions - None.
- Admission - €5 for all.
- Kick-off: 8:00PM
- Venue - Carlow I.T. astro.