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Gary Cronin opens up on Longford Town return and his Bray Wanderers exit

Longford Town Gary Cronin

Gary Cronin has had an interesting few weeks.

Newly appointed Longford Town boss Gary Cronin has opened up on an interesting couple of weeks for him, having only left his former club Bray Wanderers last week.

Cronin, 42, was previously Bray Wanderers boss until their amalgamation with Cabinteely, but he opted to leave the club amid a managerial shake-up at the Carlisle Grounds under their new ownership.

But only a mere two hours had passed since his public departure from Bray before his phone rang again, with Longford Town keen to speak with Cronin.

And following talks between both parties, it was agreed that the Dubliner would take charge of the Red and Black ahead of the 2022 season – with Longford ending their month-long search for a new boss after the departure of Daire Doyle in November.

Gary Cronin on taking over Longford Town.

“It was a quick few hours on [the] Thursday after I left Bray,” Cronin said at a press conference on Friday. “At Bray, there was obviously a takeover happening, and it was coming even through the playoffs.

“We knew that was in the background. The details of it had to be ironed out and for me, it was the right time to move on.

“It moved fairly quickly from that [on the Thursday]. All of a sudden I was Longford Town manager, and I’m delighted.”

While he did note that it was the ‘right time’ to depart the Seagulls, he did admit he found it difficult to leave the club he previously managed for three and a half years.

“[That] Thursday was a difficult day,” he added. “I’d been at Bray for three and a half years. That day will always come for football managers, handing the key back to your office.

“It came a little bit unexpectedly, we were pushing for promotion. But it was a strange day, because all of a sudden I’d left Bray and I had that period of about an hour and a half when I’m looking at Christmas not having to do anything to chase players.

First Division Playoffs

“And then I got a phone call from Longford Town. It happened very quickly and I think it’s the right thing for me.”

He also added that there was an option to remain at the Carlisle Grounds, albeit in a lesser role than he was previously at before making his return to Longford Town.

Gary Cronin returns to Longford Town.

During his playing, and early coaching days, Cronin spent most, if not all of his formative years at Longford Town – but he returns for the first time as permanent first-team boss.

“I’ve sort of completed the set there from player right up to manager,” he explained.

“I’m delighted to come back and manage this football club. To be honest, I always had a feeling I would come back and manage this club.

“It came now and, once I got the opportunity to talk to the chairman and the board it was [right].”

For now, however, Longford Town, and their new boss, head into the 2022 First Division with a point to prove after both came up short in 2021.

But in a second-tier that is set to be just as competitive as the last, Cronin is aware of the challenge that his new-look Town side will face.

“Everyone has to work within their means. Galway United, Cork City and Waterford will be full-time, but what that means, or how that translates, I don’t know,” he added.

“But every team is determined to get back up into the Premier [Division] and Longford Town are no different, regardless of budgets.

“At this time of year you talk about budgets. But ultimately when you get the players in you have to get them into a mindset and focus to win.”

Longford Town are expected to kick off their 2022 League of Ireland campaign in February, with pre-season preparations set to begin in early-January.

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