During Longford Town’s golden period in the early and mid-noughties, local lad Sean Prunty was the darling of Flancare Park. And the love the fans had for him was most definitely requited. When talking to Sean, it is still evident that love still remains even in the 12 years following his retirement. With ‘De Town’ recently earning promotion back to the top flight of Irish Soccer, it is unlikely there were many prouder of the achievement than the Ballinalee native. This week we went ClubSpotting with Sean Prunty to Longford Town.
1. Describe your earliest memories of playing with Longford Town?
I would have so many good memories of playing with Longford Town. These would range from the atmosphere when togged out in the old changing rooms in Mullolagher & the cold nights playing under the lights, to the relationship the players & management had with the fans.
Then when we moved to Summer football, the groundsman, Seamus Murray had the pitch in immaculate condition. To this day I still think about going out on to the pitch the evening before home games & practising crossing & visualising various scenarios that might arise in a game.
I have great memories of most of the games during my time at Longford Town. I was lucky enough to play in 6 of the Cup Finals, winning 3 of them. There was always a great atmosphere in Longford in the lead up to those games. When I do get to speak to fans who attended those games, I love to hear their stories & the emotions they felt during those games.
We had great support from people locally but also from fans that travelled from surrounding counties. The players always mingled with the fans after the games which was brilliant.
2. Who was your sporting idol growing up?
I loved John Barnes when I was a kid. He was one of those players who could beat his opponent with skill or pace, he had amazing balance who was able to change direction so quickly. I can remember watching goals he used to score or how he would dribble past players and then I would try mimic his movements out on the street.
3. What was your proudest moment playing for Longford Town?
I have 3 moments, winning our first FAI Cup Final in 2003 is probably the best moment followed by retaining the cup again 2004. The other would be scoring in the League Cup Final in 04. Longford was never tipped to win anything but we had a golden period of 3-4 years when we had a strong squad & a settled team.
4. What makes Longford Town a special club to you?
The relationship I have with the fans is really strong, even to this day. I loved playing with the club & the fact that I lived locally in Ballinalee, I believe the fans enjoyed having a player from the locality involved in the success of the club. Even though it’s been 12 years since I retired, I still love talking to fans about what it was like for them supporting us.
5. Who was the toughest opponent you faced throughout your career?
There was a lot of tough opponents, each had a different way of playing which meant I had to adapt to my game. There were some really good wingers in the league such as Bobby Ryan, Shane Robinson, Roy O Donovan & Richie Baker to name but a few. I also played against my now best mate Alan Kirby when he was at Waterford United who was decent, although I found him in my pocket recently after all these years. When I was in the UK with Middlesbrough we played Liverpool in a reserve game & Richie Partridge came on for them, he was lightening quick. I wasn’t a slow player, but Richie & Roy O’Donovan had pace to burn. Bobby was a tricky winger & could turn you inside out if you let him. Rickie & Robbo were both strong in the air & would try to use their pace to get by you. As I said, all good players but each brought something different.
6. Who was the best player you played with?
When I was based in the UK, I was lucky enough to train with players like Gazza, Paul Merson, Juninho, Emerson, Ravenelli & Paul Ince.
In Ireland, I was lucky to play with some excellent players such as Kirbs (Alan Kirby), Dessie Baker, Shane Barrett to name a few. When Dessie was on fire, he was unplayable. He would try the most outrageous skills. Himself & Dave Mooney had a great strike partnership going. The first time Dessie was introduced to the team he wore a full white suit. Himself & Dean Fitzgerald were two of the funniest lads in the dressing room. Shane Barrett was also skilful & was very quick, unfortunately, he had a lot of bad injuries. Kirbs was probably the best I played with. He was comfortable picking the ball up in tight situations, was both footed & was skilful.
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