Waterford News

"We're not good enough to underestimate any team" - Keith Long's desire for an elite mentality at Waterford FC.

"We're not good enough to underestimate any team" - Keith Long's desire for an elite mentality at Waterford FC.
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As we approach the restart of League of Ireland domestic football following the summer break, Keith Long and his Waterford FC side sit comfortably in second place in the First Division.

They hold a 13-point lead on third place Athlone but sit ten points adrift of leaders Galway United. The same gap existed when Long arrived at the RSC in March, with the Blue's head coach eager to establish an elite mentality amongst his players.

He witnessed the dream start with a 7-1 thumping of Finn Harps in his opening fixture. Speaking with Shaun Connolly on SportsBeat Xtra, the Dubliner has enjoyed his time in the South East.

"It's been refreshing and a really good environment to work in," he said. "The training facilities are top class, and some of the people, in terms of working beside, have regenerated me in that sense.


"Trying to come into a club and put your stamp on things, along with Alan Reynolds coming back to the club, I think it was a clear statement from the football club as to where they want to go this season.

"Obviously, our objective is to try to get promotion. We haven't reeled in Galway in terms of points so far, although some of our performances have been very good.

"Some of the performances we need to improve upon."


Galway have been in imperious form this season, winning 17 of their 19 games and only suffering defeat in one outing.


That said, Long has won 11 of his 14 games in charge, drawing one and losing back-to-back games in May. Despite the mountain that must be climbed to catch John Caulfield's men, there is still belief in the dressing room.

"We have to think that way, that's for sure," he added.

"Galway has shown no signs of weakness to date - they've been more or less flawless so far this season.

"But we can't focus on Galway - we can only focus on us getting better as a squad, trying to improve the squad and trying to get better individually."

He continued: "Really, we have got to focus on trying to become a better team, and I think to be fair to the lads, by and large, the squad has been excellent, and they have bought into that."

One of the standout performers in Waterford's season is Ronan Coughlan.

The hitman has registered 25 goals this campaign, with 23 coming during Long's time at the club.

The former Bohemians man is delighted to have a player of his ability to call upon.

"Ronan is a Premier Division striker. He was at Waterford FC when I arrived at the club, so it was reassuring to know that you have a striker of that quality in the building," he said.

"Since we've arrived, he's gone on an amazing run of goals where he's shown his Premier Division quality against First Division opposition.

"I think Ronan is enjoying his football and a change of scenery living in Waterford with his partner."

Next up is a trip to Cork on Friday, June 23, for a fixture with Cobh Ramblers at 7.45 pm.

It is a game that provided a stern test last time around and one that will not be taken lightly.

"The last time we played in Cork was a really tough game," he added.

"We went two nil up, we got ahead early and scored two really good goals.

"But after that, it was a slog - we had to dig in and fight tooth and nail.

"We've got to ensure that the boys come back physically refreshed, mentally refreshed, recharged and reenergized and ready to go."

The draw for the FAI Cup first has pitted the First Division side on the road to Tipperary's St. Michaels AFC, with the non-league side aiming to provide a difficult encounter.

It is one that Long will treat with the utmost respect.

"It's a great draw for St. Michaels, and it's a great draw for us because it is a local derby against a Junior side in a neighbouring County," he said.

"We'll take nothing for granted. I'll be brutally honest with you, and this is where we are at - we're not good enough to underestimate any team.

"We have to perform to our maximum every time we cross the white line and that's the mentality that we have to have against every opposition.

"We have to approach every game with the same mentality, and if we do that, we can reach a high level of performance that when big games come around, performance becomes automatic.

"We're trying to install that in our training."

You can listen back to the full interview on SportsBeat Xtra here.

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