Aodh Dervin: 'I always dreamt of making my debut for Longford Town - I had to pinch myself when it happened'

Thu, Jun 28 2018

Dervin in action for Longford during their EA Sports Cup win over Shamrock Rovers this year. Credit: Martin Doherty

After honing his undoubted talent in the Longford and District Schoolboys League as a fresh-faced novice, Aodh Dervin has established himself as one of the major forces empowering the Longford Town team of 2018 at a tender age of 18.

Ahead of this weekend’s mammoth First Division clash against UCD at the Belfield Bowl on Friday evening, Aodh spoke exclusively with extratime.ie.

Growing up as a Longford Town supporter with City Calling Stadium just down the road, Dervin revealed that it was a dream come true for him to line out for his hometown club in the League of Ireland.

“It was a great moment when I made my debut for the first team,” he said.

“It was always something you dreamt of going to the games and I had to pinch myself when it actually happened.”

With Longford being a provincial club, the recently graduated secondary school pupil knows the importance of locals lining out for the club on a weekly basis, having grown up in the town itself.

“It’s big [locals playing for the team]. People start coming to the games a lot more often when there’s locals in the team. It shows that local lads do have a chance.

“There were always things being said that local lads didn’t have a chance and Longford Town didn’t bring through locals, but they do.

“The underage set-up is getting better and better now and we’re starting to rely on the underage system a lot more now.”

This year, more than most, has presented the 18-year-old with new challenges both on and off the pitch.

While also getting used to the rigmarole of League of Ireland football, Longford’s teenage sensation had the other challenge of the Leaving Certificate to overcome.

It's achallenge he was helped with substantially by his manager, Neale Fenn, and assistant manager Daire Doyle throughout.

“It was hard to get used to at the start. When we went back for pre-season we were training three days a week and I found it hard to get the time to study and get my homework finished.

“Neale was very understanding about that side of it with me and my Leaving Cert.

“Even when the Leaving Cert was coming up and I needed time off for projects and all, he would let me off which was great. Neale and Daire were great for that!”

Like many youngsters nowadays who have plied their early trade in the underage set-up, Dervin paid tribute to the newly installed National League structure which granted him his chance to prove himself on the national stage.

“I was playing with the 19’s when I was at the year for 17’s back then. I had Wayne Groves as my manager then and he was very good for us.

“I was always one of the younger ones and he managed to keep my feet on the ground back then. When you have good people like that around you, it’s hard to go wrong.

“I came in when the 17s was just starting up and the step up was mad from the set-up I came from before that.

“You’re playing against the best players in the country at your age and it really improves you as a player as you go on.”

With just ten games to go in the First Division in a finale that will go right down to the wire, the midfield dynamo admitted that the first-team squad have been told that they are to keep focused on one game at a time, a mantra that could potentially see Longford Town pull themselves over the line come September 22nd.

“We’ve just been told to keep it game by game. If we keep winning games, that’s all we can do and let’s see where that takes us come the end of the season.”

Looking ahead to Friday night’s clash at the UCD Bowl, Dervin noted that both he, and his Longford Town teammates are anticipating a tough game on Friday in the capital.

“We’re very confident going into the game on Friday after our last few games against the teams around us.

“Saying that, last time we played UCD, we weren’t good enough at home, so we know what to expect from them now.

“They’re big, but if we can play football on our terms I don’t see why we can’t win on Friday.”