Author & interview by: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_b_sport
Longford Town FC’s 5-0 hammering at the hands of Finn Harps on Friday night marked out a new low in what has been a season of disappointments with interim manager John Martin admitting after the game he was unlikely to be in the running for the job next season. De Town’s fate had long been decided with a 2-0 defeat away to Drogheda in October officially confirming the club’s instant return to the First Division having only been promoted via the play-offs last November. However, after the game in Donegal on Friday night, Martin didn’t hold back, insisting his players had not only let themselves down but the club and its supporters.
“I think the players really let themselves down, they let the club down and they probably let Waterford down, although it’s really Waterford’s own responsibility, it was a very difficult night to watch and some of the things they done were just dreadful”, remarked a clearly livid Martin who had taken up the role of caretaker boss following Daire Doyle’s dismissal at the start of the month.
Despite only accumulating 15 points from 36 games this season, Longford Town have often been praised for their work rate and effort this season with the part-time club from the Midlands operating against some vastly greater resources sides with what is undoubtedly the smallest budget in the division. However, Martin feels such praise should not be forthcoming for what he believes are the basics of the game.
“They (the players) get a lot of credit for showing up, that’s not for me personally, I don’t think they should get the credit for showing up, they should be doing that and their best every week. It’s a professional sport and the reality is they’ve not done well enough this season so I’d be surprised if many of them stay in the division”, said Martin who did go on to admit there were obvious exceptions who would have top-level interest such as Aodh Dervin, Dylan Grimes, and Aaron O’Driscoll.
Those three players, in particular, have still managed to shine at times this season despite Longford’s struggles and while Grimes was unavailable through injury on Friday night, the overall performance and result against Finn Harps will have been a sorry way for O’Driscoll and local lad Dervin to bow out should it prove to be their final game in the Red & Black of Longford Town.
“It’s really sad and while I’m reluctant to give them too much credit for trying their best this season, they have done. O’Driscoll has been very good and Dervin gives you everything so to finish on that is horrible, it’s not nice and they’ll probably have that for a while, particularly for Dervin coming through the ranks at the club, I’d imagine he’ll carry that one”, admitted a clearly hurt John Martin after the game on Friday.
With applications for the vacant first-team managers’ position closing last week, John Martin admitted post-match it was now unlikely he would be in the dugout as Town boss in 2022 and that his main concern now was ensuring a smooth transition for whoever the club do see fit to take up the reigns in what looks to be an ultra-competitive second tier next year.
“My intention was to just do the three games, my relationship with the club is probably slightly different to some people given I played here for a long time so I think my intention is to speak to the club during the week and give them my feedback on the direction they might go.”
“As regards to (being) the manager, I would say that is unlikely but I suppose my role over the next few weeks is to ensure a smooth transition, but in terms of the actual managers’ job itself it’s difficult, you’ve just been beaten 5-0 but I’ve no real desire to think about being a manager at this moment in time, but I do think it would be unlikely I’ll be the manager next year.
“I don’t think that’s for me at this moment in time. In the future, for sure I’d love to manage the club but my plan wasn’t to be managing in 2022, my plan was to obviously work with Daire (Doyle) but that hasn’t quite worked out so look I will talk to the club and I will sit down with them and I’ll give them my feedback, and that’s a lot to do with the relationship I have with the club anyway but in terms of coming out and saying I want to be the manager, no, I won’t be saying that and I won’t be doing that” concluded a frank and brutally honest John Martin.
Listen to the full post-match interview Kieran Burke & John Martin below.