Longford scrapping for survival

Longford midfielder John Keegan wins the ball during last Sunday's National Football League Division Three clash against Sligo at Markievicz Park. Photo: Declan Gilmore
After a lot of tinkering with the team throughout the current National Football League campaign with manager Jack Sheedy opting to introduce a big number of new players, Longford are now scrapping for survival in Division 3 and it will be a major disappointment if they fail to avoid relegation.

After a lot of tinkering with the team throughout the current National Football League campaign with manager Jack Sheedy opting to introduce a big number of new players, Longford are now scrapping for survival in Division 3 and it will be a major disappointment if they fail to avoid relegation.

After competing in Division 2 last season, Longford are facing the serious danger of ending up in Division 4 and those worst fears will be realised if the midlanders should happen to lose against fellow strugglers Wexford on Sunday next. The pressure is mounting on manager Sheedy in the build-up to the make or break clash at Wexford Park with the counties deadlocked on four points apiece but with a superior scores difference a draw will be good enough to save Longford from the dreaded drop.

A poor first half performance cost them very dearly in the slender one-point defeat against Sligo at Markievicz Park on Sunday last but the absence of Brian Kavanagh (shoulder injury) and Barry Gilleran (chest infection) was a significant setback.

Kavanagh is expected to be out of action for a few weeks and thus will miss the Wexford game while Gilleran is considered doubtful to feature in the relegation battle. And it remains to be seen whether Sheedy will play Paul Barden from the start after he was brought on in the 52nd minute of the showdown against Sligo.

Surprisingly, none of the U-21 players were included in the squad for such an important fixture on Sunday last but that strange stance will hopefully change with so much at stake in Wexford.

Both counties are going through a transition period and Wexford were well beaten by Fermanagh in Enniskillen last weekend with the home county cruising to a comprehensive nine point victory to secure their Division 3 status.

A lot of changes has taken place since Wexford beat Longford after extra-time in the second round of the All-Ireland Qualifiers at Pearse Park last July with defender David Murphy and ace attacker Redmond Barry no longer in action after deciding to retire.

A big blow for Wexford, to say the least, but with other quality players in Adrian Flynn, Ben Brosnan, Ciaran Lyng, PJ Banville and powerful midfielder Daithi Waters it must be said that Longford will be hard pressed to get the result they require at such a difficult venue.

It’s a straight shoot out between the old rivals in the battle to avoid relegation and with little separating the sides in their many meetings in recent years, another close encounter is in prospect and there will be a lot of tension at Wexford Park on Sunday, throw-in 3pm.