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Town get ready for last push in league

Soccer: Leinster senior league

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Paul Crowley

Paul Crowley

Paul Crowley

It was mid March - Friday the 13th to be precise - when their season came to an abrupt halt and this Tuesday night, some 102 days later, Drogheda Town finally return to training.

Blackstone Motors Marian Park is being made ready so that all the Covid-19 protocols can be met, and the squad now have a return date to work towards after the Leinster Senior League announced over the weekend that fixtures are due to resume on July 18th.

That's just four weeks away and after such a long break it's a case of all hands to the pump to enable players to regain something approaching full match fitness.

Town lie third in the Major Sunday division, albeit with more games played than most other sides, and with three teams to be promoted to Division 1B Sunday, Paul Crowley's side will need to hit the ground running if they are to stay in contention.

There's an argument that having points in the bag will be beneficial to Drogheda Town as other teams in the promotion battle face playing twice a week for the remainder of the season to catch up, but Crowley doesn't see it that way.

Speaking to the Drogheda Independent this week, he said: 'We have three away games left and two at home and we've a bit of work to do to stay in the top three.

'It's going to be difficult to gauge what shape other teams are going to be in, but for me I wish the league would look at this situation. You don't see it at any level where other teams have 10 games left and we have five.

'We've looked to get our games played against teams who are at full strength, and then towards the end of the season some of those teams will travel with only 10 or 11 players or won't travel at all.

'It's an unfair advantage [to teams with games in hand]. They do have FAI cup and Leinster cup games to fit in, but the league games should always take priority.'

In terms of his own squad, Crowley feels they've been working hard to stay in shape, but that there's no substitute for group training.

He said: 'We have been keeping in contact with players and doing classes online and also some fitness work because it's important to keep in touch with the lads. You see how it [the lockdown] affects families and it's no different for a group of players.

'The type of player I signed were lads who would naturally look after themselves, so I would imagine they will be in good shape when they come back and that will help because the last thing you need is lads coming back with weight on them.

'I'm looking forward to getting back training. You know yourself that the club are very organised and work hard behind the scenes. There's big protocols to follow and we have two Covid-19 officers in place.

'We'll have 15 out for training on Tuesday, including staff. The toilets will be open, the changing rooms won't, and there'll be hand sanitiser.

'We won't be doing games, or two v two or three v three scenarios, but we can do passing drills and fitness work and the goalkeepers can work hard with the goalkeeping coach, and then on June 29th we can go into full contact training.'

A couple of friendlies are likely to take place before competitive fixtures resume next month, although it's not yet clear whether either of the two cup competitions that Town are still involved in will be completed before the end of the season or scrapped to allow the league campaign to be concluded.

Drogheda Independent