After scoring a surprise win against the defending Leinster and All-Ireland champions Dublin in a first round clash at Pairc Tailteann last week, winning a thrilling tussle 0-21 to 0-17 after extra-time, Meath will provide the opposition for Longford in the floodlit Leinster U-21 Football Championship quarter-final at the Navan grounds on Wednesday night next, March 9th, throw-in 7.30pm.
With home advantage, the royal county will be strongly fancied to advance a stage further but Longford team manager Padraic Davis and his fellow selectors Eugene McCormack, Cathal Conefrey and Pete McWade have assembled a useful squad featuring senior newcomer Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon) at centrefield while other key players are forwards Padraig Gill (Fr. Manning Gaels) and JJ Matthews (Mullinalaghta).
A few members of last year’s Leinster Minor winning team are also in contention to start against Meath, notably Darren Gallagher (Granard), Padraig McCormack (Killoe) and Fr. Manning Gaels trio James Noonan, Diarmuid Cooney and Paddy Collum with Robbie Smyth (Abbeylara) recently added to the squad and Longford will be quietly confident of causing a major upset despite their failure to reach the Hastings Cup Tournament Final this season – losing narrowly to Cavan and Roscommon.
On their way to winning the Leinster Minor title in 2008, Meath were rather fortunate to beat Longford in the semi-final at Pairc Tailteann and a close U-21 encounter could be in prospect with the eventual winners at home to Westmeath or Offaly in the floodlit semi-final on Wednesday night, March 23rd.