Daire Doyle expresses his delight upon O'Connor's arrival

New Longford Town signing Shane O'Connor (right) pictured with manager Neale Fenn.

Article by Kieran Burke - @KieranBTS.

Speaking exclusively to Between the Stripes earlier today, Longford Town's new assistant manager Daire Doyle expressed his delighted following last nights capture of former Ipswich Town and Waterford FC midfielder Shane O'Connor. A First Division winner with Alan Reynold's Waterford last term, O'Connor is just twenty-seven but has already played for eight clubs including some pretty big ones in the likes of Shamrock Rovers and Cork City, while the midfielder has experience abroad with Port Vale and in Northern Ireland with Portadown. 

Playing twenty-three of Waterford's twenty-eight league games last season, scoring four-times in the process, O'Connor was something of a fans favorite at the RSC and many expected the talented Cork man to remain with the Munster club as they prepare for a first top-flight campaign in eleven-years. However, with the "Blues" going full-time ahead of their return to the elite level of Irish football it appears Longford's part-time set-up was a factor in O'Connors decision to move to the Midlands club.

Having tasted success in the second tier in 2017, Longford Town's coaching staff will be hoping O'Connor's experience and of course his raw talent can help guide the "Red and Black" to their first league triumph since 2014. Town assistant boss Daire Doyle had the following to say on O'Connor's addition to the squad:

"Delighted to get Shane on board. Shane's qualities as a footballer will really add to our squad. He has a great work rate and tremendous ability on the ball and his experience will add massively to our squad."

A graduate of the Liverpool FC youth academy, O'Connor moved to Ipswich Town in 2009 and went on to make seventeen appearances for the "Tractor Boys". However, following an unsuccessful loan spell at Port Vale where O'Connor failed to make a senior appearance the writing was on the wall for the Corkman, who eventually returned to the "Rebel County" in 2012 by signing for Cork City. Just five appearances later and O'Connor was on the move again as Tallaght giants Shamrock Rovers came calling and despite lifting the Leinster Senior Cup on his debut, O'Connor again failed to settle with a move to Portadown sealed after just five first-team outings for Rovers. Ten appearances followed there while he went one better at Limerick before finally settling with local club Cobh Ramblers where O'Connor made fifty-appearances, scored nine goals and was voted as the clubs player of the year for 2015. Another impressive season followed as the "Rams" qualified for the play-offs and as a result free-spending Waterford FC came calling.

The challenge of promotion will undoubtedly be the goal set out for O'Connor by his new employers this season but with the likes of Dean Zambra, Jamie Hollywood, Evan Galvin, Peter Hopkins, Darren Meenan and Sam Verdon all strong midfield options for manager Neale Fenn this season, O'Connor will have to work hard in pre-season to nail down a starting position at the City Calling Stadium. In terms of young threats to O'Connor and the rest of "De Town's" more established stars, local lad Aodh Dervin reportedly impressed Republic of Ireland under-19's boss Tom Mohan in a friendly match at the AUL earlier this morning as Dervin took part in a 3-0 win for the Irish squad over an ETB select XI. There is now a very distinct possibility Dervin could be called up to represent the Irish under-19's for an international friendly against Romania in Spain next month.

In more immediate matters, Longford Town's pre-season fixtures start in earnest tomorrow morning when the Midlanders travel to Roadstone for an 11AM kick-off against Shamrock Rovers. With the "Hoops" playing against Cobh Ramblers later that day in the Tallaght Stadium it is likely Rovers manager Stephen Bradley will rotate in bulk throughout the day, while Longford fans should get the first of many opportunities over the coming weeks to see what is virtually a new squad of players. Ten new signings have arrived over the off-season with perhaps one more body to come according to Neale Fenn, who currently has a squad of eighteen first-team players to choose from ahead of the game in Dublin tomorrow.

Longford Town begin their competitive campaign with a home fixture in the First Division on February 24th against last seasons runners up and Shane O'Connors former club Cobh Ramblers.