Although disappointed that his side could not spring a shock on Dublin in the Leinster U-21 Football Championship semi-final at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise last week, Longford manager Jack Sheedy hopes that his players will learn from the experience.
Speaking to the Leader he said, “I said to the U-21 players after the game they have to be immensely proud of themselves that they competed right to the final whistle and gave a good account of themselves against top opposition. They need to kick on from here and not leave it behind them.
Some of those Dublin players have won All-Ireland Senior medals. It’s a fantastic achievement at that age to be at that level and then to come back and perform with their U-21 squad. That’s what’s required to be successful. Our lads have now got a taste of what it’s like to play against a group of players like that.”
It was two first half goals from senior player Paul Mannion that set up the Dublin win. Despite those setbacks Longford battled hard, something that delighted Sheedy. “They got a couple of bounces of the ball that worked really well for them and ended up with the two early goals. Most teams would have thrown in the towel at that stage and given up the ghost but our guys just got stuck in, worked harder and never gave up. Great credit to the lads, they were fantastic. You have to get luck and probably perform above yourself against a team like Dublin because you get very few opportunities. I suppose anything we got in this campaign we had to work extremely hard for.”
There is a silver lining for Sheedy after this defeat. He can now bring some U-21 players into the senior squad for the crucial away games to Sligo and Wexford in the National League. “Some of the guys will come into contention for the seniors. We will look at that and see what we need to do. Hopefully, those that come in will kick on and give some serious competition to the guys that are already in the squad,” said Sheedy.