Longford and Offaly clash in Championship

The pressure is on Longford manager Jack Sheedy ahead of the senior county side's encounter with Offaly in the Leinster Championship.
After suffering the severe setback of getting relegated to Division 4 of the National Football League, Longford badly need to salvage something from a wreck of a season so far.

After suffering the severe setback of getting relegated to Division 4 of the National Football League, Longford badly need to salvage something from a wreck of a season so far.

Thus the pressure is very much on the manager Jack Sheedy in the build-up to the Leinster Senior Football Championship first round clash against Offaly at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday next, throw-in 3.30pm, and a win would be a great lift for all concerned.

With Longford gradually getting back to full strength, with the notable exception of the long term injured defender Declan Reilly, the general opinion is that the county are capable of crossing the first hurdle in their quest to earn another home tie against Wexford in the quarter-final on June 7th/8th.

Jack Sheedy has pointed out in an interview with the Leader this week (see page 94) that the players have the potential to make further progress. However, they must improve on a poor campaign in Division 3 of the National League which yielded just two wins - at home to Fermanagh and away to Offaly.

On the basis that they went to O’Connor Park in Tullamore in early March and came out on top by the comfortable margin of five points, Longford will feel fairly confident of beating Offaly again in the match that really matters - and particularly so at Pearse Park.

But the faithful county cause has been given a considerable boost by the return of vastly experienced defenders Shane Sullivan and Brian Darby, along with prolific forwards Paul McPadden and Ken Casey, and Longford are probably facing a tough task.

Offaly, of course, were also relegated to Division 4 but traditionally produce good performances in the championship and certainly proved that last year when they ran Kildare close at Croke Park - losing by four points in the finish.

Having said that, Offaly have failed to win a game in the Leinster Championship since beating Carlow back in 2007 but will be hoping to bring that losing sequence to an end at Pearse Park on Sunday with classy attacker Niall McNamee clearly a potential matchwinner.

Longford are well aware to the threat that Offaly will pose but Jack Sheedy’s side, despite lacking in belief in the current campaign, should be good enough to achieve a badly needed victory.