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Dylan ready for cup centre stage

Town ace McGlade back from serious injury and eyes Cork shock

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Mac's joy: Dylan McGlade (pictured) is relishing tonight's FAI Cup quarter-final clash with Cork City and is flourishing under Longford Town boss Neale Fenn

Mac's joy: Dylan McGlade (pictured) is relishing tonight's FAI Cup quarter-final clash with Cork City and is flourishing under Longford Town boss Neale Fenn

Neale Fenn

Neale Fenn

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Mac's joy: Dylan McGlade (pictured) is relishing tonight's FAI Cup quarter-final clash with Cork City and is flourishing under Longford Town boss Neale Fenn

The kids of Longford have been starved of local heroes for some time, given the country's failure to make an impact at senior level in Gaelic football.

But a lad from the northside of Dublin has been taken to their hearts, as Dylan McGlade has become a real star for the midlands club with a string of goals and assists from his attacking play.

It's been a long road for the 23-year-old from Swords, long and painful with a list of injury problems that would have caused some players to quit the game.

But McGlade is the most talked-about player in the League of Ireland's second tier and it's almost certain he will be playing top-flight football next season, possibly in the colours of Longford Town as Neale Fenn's side still have a chance of promotion, via the play-offs.

McGlade will get a national audience for his talents tonight as the RTE cameras will be in Longford for their FAI Cup quarter-final clash with Cup holders Cork City. Some players freeze under the spotlight but the former Middlesbrough trainee says he, and his Longford team-mates, are ready to deliver. "I have got a bit more attention online and scoring goals helps, it puts you out there to more people," says McGlade, who had two injury-scarred years at Boro as a teenager.

"It's nice to have people talking about you on a personal level but also it might help get people through the gates on a Saturday night, or Friday this week for the Cup game.

"I get kids coming up to me at home games saying they follow me on twitter, and it's good that people want to come and see you play.

"On the back of this form, there will be interest and offers, I am the kind of player who thrives on that and it doesn't affect me, I like being in the limelight.

"I have had a great season, my goal now is to help the club get promoted and go on in the Cup, I will think about other stuff when the season is over but it's nice to be talked about and have your hard work recognised."

The Longford squad will enjoy the big stage tonight, while still hoping to progress to the Cup semi-finals but for McGlade, even being able to play is a triumph of sorts.

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"I struggled a lot with injury early in my career, I broke bones in both legs, I broke both ankles, I did my achilles, tore my hamstrings and all quite early so I am only starting to hit my form now. And it helps that our manager plays the way I like to play, he believes in me and lets me do my thing and express myself," he says.

"The first time I broke my ankle was at Boro, in a reserve game at home to Everton, that kept me out for eight months. I have two wires in my ankle that hold the ankle together, as well as a metal plate that holds my leg together.

"I came back but nearly a year after that I broke my other leg, when I was at Shels.

"They weren't career-ending injuries but they were tough to recover from and I think all of that helps to build character, how to prepare for the next stage of your career.

"It was hard at times, I remember one time at Shels, I was training but I couldn't do anything, simple passes went the wrong way, I couldn't get a touch, my ankles would swell up after training so I could barely walk the next day, one night I remember thinking 'I don't think I will ever get back from this'."

Returning home from Boro in 2013, he had spells with Shels and St Pat's but it was a move to Longford in 2017 which put him on the right path, a path that could lead to a Cup final.

"No one expects us to win, all the pressure is on Cork," he says. "It's rare for us to be on TV so we will deal with that. We don't want these games to be a one-off, we want to be in the Premier Division next season, if we are to play in the Premier and test ourselves, this Cup game s a chance to do that. We have the freedom to go and play and try to get a result, without pressure on us."


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