After a disappointing defeat away to Wexford in their opening game of Division 2, Longford selector Padraic Davis believes this Sunday’s showdown at home to neighbouring rivals Westmeath is the perfect opportunity for the players to put things right.
“If you can’t get up for a local derby, you can’t get up for anything else. That’s the good thing about having Westmeath in the second game, the lads have forgotten about Wexford and are looking forward to the challenge. It’s a while since we had a derby game in the league against Westmeath. We have a good chance of putting things right at Pearse Park on Sunday,” he told the Leader.
Longford were very unlucky not to come away from Wexford with something but just like the Leinster Championship replay clash last year, Wexford snatched victory from the jaws of defeat right at the end. For Davis the result was tough to take but the performance was pleasing:
“The end result was disappointing but in terms of the performance we have absolutely no complaints. We were happy from that point of view. I don’t think it will set us back for next week’s game. The players did all that we asked of them. It’s unlucky that we didn’t get anything out of the game because the players deserved it.”
Davis wants more of the same from Longford against Westmeath on Sunday: “We hope we can get the same performance from the lads and that would make life difficult for Westmeath. They scored a good win against Louth and have momentum with them after the comeback.”
The one performance that Davis wasn’t impressed with in Wexford was that of Cork referee Conor Lane: “The one thing we didn’t get was fair play. I’m not in the business to give out about referees but there were some very questionable decisions that went against us. I thought on this occasion it should be mentioned. There was three frees given against us that cost us the game.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s match against Westmeath, Davis is familiar with a lot of the Westmeath players; both from his playing days and his time in charge of Longford’s U-21s:
“From Gary Connaughton through to Dessie Dolan they have a load of players who have Leinster senior medals. Then there’s Callum McCormack and Ger Egan who were U-21s and of course John Heslin, another of their promising young players. Westmeath are going to come to Pearse Park with confidence but we’ll be up for it and ready,” said the Fr. Manning Gaels clubman.
One Westmeath player missing for Sunday’s game is Doran Harte who was sent-off against Louth. For Longford Shane Doyle has been added to the injury list. Although Longford will still be missing key players for Sunday, Davis is pleased with the panel at their disposal:
“The reason why the Wexford performance was so encouraging is because of a lot of people feel the one thing against Longford is they don’t have strength in depth. When you compare last Sunday’s game against the championship fixtures against Wexford last year, we had seven changes and they had just a couple, so that’s positive. The lads are upbeat, ready to go for Sunday now and they deserve great credit for that in their desire to achieve a vital home win.”