Longford Town's Luke Dennison: 'It's not one of the top countries to play in Europe, but it has exceeded my expectations'

Sun, Dec 08 2019

Hailing from the United States, Longford Town goalkeeper Luke Dennison will join some distinguished company should he make his League of Ireland debut next term.

Jake Keegan, Chris Konopka, Morgan Langley and Ryan Guy are all remembered for making their respective mark on the league, and Longford’s Dennison will be hoping to make similar.

After completing his studies in San Francisco – the 23-year-old made the move to Europe to follow his professional football dreams.

“After I finished college, I decided to go and play some European football and I came over to Ireland,” the Irish-American dual citizenship holder told extratime.ie.

“I came over to train to settle me down. I trained with Shamrock Rovers a couple of times, but they had just signed Leon Pohls as their other keeper and the transfer window had closed.

“I was in a little bit of a situation not knowing what I was going to do. I then started training with a couple of different teams.

“I ended up training with Wexford and Longford in the League of Ireland and then a couple of Leinster Senior League sides to keep fit.

“Then Longford asked me to come on and there I was, and everything worked out.”

And while his initial experience of League of Ireland football was filled with uncertainty and the unknown – the Public Relations graduate admits his early expectations of Irish football were exceeded.

“It was a little different to what I expected,” Dennison said. “Coming over to Ireland, I had all my aunts and uncles, cousins and parents telling me all about Irish football.

“It’s not one of the top countries to play in Europe and you’ll have to use it as a stepping-stone, but I think it did exceed my expectations talent wise.

“There’s great exposure to get if you play in the Premier Division and you can then get the opportunity to play in the Europa League and Champions League Qualifiers.

“The League of Ireland is definitely of a higher standard (compared to college football in the US).

“In the United States (in college football), it’s all about the athletes and kicking the ball up and hoping something would happen in the final third rather than build up and technical play from the players.

“The overall IQ of the game is much higher in Ireland. With Longford the players are top class, and the way things are built up from the back you can’t ask for much more as a footballer.”

Not only is the standard superior on this side of the Atlantic from his experience – Dennison has also noticed a shift in attitude towards football on the Emerald Isle. 

“It’s definitely different,” the Chico State University graduate admits.

“The whole attitude, especially around Universities where there would be a handful of guys pursuing professional careers in football but a lot of them would be bigger into their studies and would see football as a second thought.

“When I was in college it was football first and I’d make sure I’d do well in school, but football was always my biggest focus and I think that’s the main difference.”

And while his early interactions with the League of Ireland have certainly been positive – the 23-year-old is hoping to make memories last a lifetime with Daire Doyle’s Longford Town in 2020.

“It’s been a great experience so far. I think there’s big things up and coming for us so I’m excited to see what 2020 holds for us.

“Being the first choice is always the aim. With Lee (Steacy) re-signing – he has been a great help for me since joining both on and off the pitch – I’m excited to see what happens.

“He was phenomenal last year so I’m just going to stay patient and make the most of my opportunities. I’m hoping to keep learning and networking to set the foundations for the future.”