Provincial Towns Cup 1st Round Preview: Lonford v Tullamore
In 2013 Longford RFC reached the Provincial Towns Cup Final for the first time since the club was reformed in 1967; a historic year when Pat Fitzgerald, representing Longford RFC, become the President of the I.R.F.U. He was the first Junior Club representative ever to hold this office.
The Provincial Towns Cup is one of the oldest trophies in existence in Irish rugby dating back to 1892. The Cup originally named the Leinster Junior Challenge Cup was then presented for the inception of the Provincial Towns Cup in 1926. Longford RFC contested the 88th final v Tullamore.
The competition is an open draw format and as such throws up many David V Goliath encounters. As President of the Leinster Branch Ben Gormley said: “The Town's Cup is the Holy Grail of Junior rugby in the province and it is a competition that grips towns like no other. Its popularity continues to grow year on year.”
Next Sunday the Towns Cup competition for this season gets underway when Longford take on Tullamore. Head Coach Niall Moran says that the outcome is very much in the hands of his team: “Our own performance is really what we have got to focus on. Obviously, we are going to look at the opposition and try and determine what they are going to bring to the party. Tullamore really have a lot to offer, but from our perspective we have got to focus on what we do and ensure we do it well. We can ask no more than that and we are not going to get upset or worried about our opponents.”
Moran is under no illusion as to the quality of the opposition: “We have to respect what Tullamore have to offer. But we would be underselling ourselves if we were not up for the fight. It is still going to be a big ask for us, but if we intend to make a game of this then we have to match them in the pack. We would be quietly confident that we can do that.”
Moran says that the work-rate of the Offaly side is their main threat: “They are a very difficult side to negate, they are good all over. They suck teams in, draw them into space then spread the ball wide. They are great at wearing teams down. There is no reason to expect them to change tack against us. They execute overlaps very well, so the challenges for us are fairly substantial.”
Director of Rugby with Longford RFC, Damien Curley, said that there is a healthy respect for the opposition: “Tullamore are a very strong team. I can't really see any weakness, but hopefully we will have a game plan in place that will help us play to our strengths. They have a very strong pack, a hard running number 8, their scrum half/out half combination is very good. That is where they are particularly strong, that 8,9,10 axis.”
The Towns Cup opening clash between Longford and Tullamore this Sunday 29th January at CPL park.
You can see a match report on Longford first appearance in the Towns Cup Final in 1932 v Dundalk by clicking on this link.