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Keith Long wants to capture imagination of Waterford public

Keith Long is calling on the Waterford public to get behind his team as they return to the SSE Airtricity Men's Premier Division this season.

The club clinched their place in the top flight in front of a national TV audience last November when they defeated Cork City 2-1 after extra time in the promotion/relegation play-off.

Encouraged by a raucous support on the night, Long feels the occasion showcased to the nation just how big a football club Waterford is.

"It feels like a long time ago," the Blues manager told RTÉ Sport at the 2024 League of Ireland launch this week.

"We deserved to win the game. It gave you a flavour of the size of the football club with the travelling support that we had. The appetite for League of Ireland football in the county has never been better."

Waterford fans of a certain generation may beg to differ, as many will have watched the club win six league titles in the space eight years across the late-1960s and early-1970s.

Returning to the top flight following a two-year absence, Dubliner Long is inviting fans of all codes to come along for the ride.

"There's a huge history and tradition in Waterford," says the ex-Bohemians manager.

"Our job is to capture the imagination of the Waterford sporting public. It's traditionally a hurling and GAA county, but why can't they come and watch their football team play as well? I don't think you're betraying any sporting code by watching football on a Friday night and your hurling team on a Sunday afternoon.

"We'll be appealing to the sporting public in Waterford to get behind the side but it's our obligation to put a team on the park that represents the club well. Season tickets are at an all-time high, our first game at home to Shels was sold out.

"It will be a