The encouraging signs were there when they made it difficult for Carrickedmond in the opening round of the group stage and Sean Connollyâ€™s have built on that positive performance to eventually make it through to the Intermediate Football Championship decider against the same opposition at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday next.
Subsequent wins over Kenagh, Legan Sarsfields and Rathcline (twice) has put the Ballinalee club into the county intermediate final for the first time in 25 years (which they won) and there is a growing belief that the current squad of committed players could cross the last hurdle in the quest for championship glory - something that was considered most unlikely at the start of the season.
But the Connollyâ€™s supremo Colin â€˜Dollyâ€™ Dalton has managed to turn things around in quite remarkable fashion, after the club experienced such a fierce struggle in the recent past, and while the return of some players to the squad has strengthened the cause it is the emergence of promising youngsters that has given them great hope.
County minor Dessie Reynolds has been in excellent form for the Connollyâ€™s on their path to the title decider, and particularly so in the semi-final win over Rathcline as he scored a crucial goal on the stroke of half-time.
Attacker Reynolds also registered three points during the course of a hard fought win after his side battled back from being 0-5 to 0-1 down at one stage and the dangerman created the crucial third goal for substitute Joe Heaney (another bright young prospect) in the early stages of the second half.
Midfielder Stephen Lynch is another key figure on the Connollyâ€™s team which contains plenty of experience in Ciaran McEoin (the current captain), Andy McNamee, Michael McGlynn, Paddy Oâ€™Neill, Trevor Murtagh, Eugene Murtagh, Adrian Dalton. Brendan Treacy and Padraig Brady - all of whom started in the 2007 senior championship semi-final against Dromard which ended in a most unlucky one-point defeat.
It has come as no great surprise that Carrickedmond have qualified for yet another Intermediate championship final as they were generally considered to be the title favourites, clearly reflected in their excellent league form this season as they won all their games in cruising to the Division 2 title.
Carrick are a team on a mission in their fierce desire to make amends for the bitter disappointment of their failure to win the championship last year, eventually losing out to Ardagh in the title decider that required a replay to settle the issue following a couple of dismal low scoring games.
After guiding the Longford U-21 team to the Leinster final last year when they were beaten by Kildare, and that after scoring a sensational win over Dublin at Parnell Park in the opening round, Eugene McCormack is back in charge of his native Carrickedmond.
McCormackâ€™s inspirational presence is making a big impact - just like his Ballinalee counterpart Colin Dalton - and after beating Connollyâ€™s, Legan and Rathcline in the group stage the Carrickedmond team just about managed to get the better of Cashel in the semi-final by the slender margin of two points.
While Carrick overcame Connollyâ€™s by 0-16 to 2-4 in Round 1, just two points separated the sides with seven minutes of normal time remaining before McCormackâ€™s crew finished the stronger with four scores in a row to clinch the victory.
Thus the south Longford side will be well warned in their quest to capture the Intermediate county title for the fourth time and their last triumph was in 2010 when Eugene McCormack was also the manager.
Carrickedmond will be hoping to gain a decisive edge at centrefield in Sundayâ€™s final, with the physically strong John Oâ€™Shea and commanding county senior player Barry Oâ€™Farrell the probable pairing - although John Burns is another option to feature in this crucial sector.
The key players in the Carrick attack are Marty Mulvey, Padraig Oâ€™Shea, Johnny Keegan and Mark Oâ€™Donnell, the latter back in action after serving a suspension that ruled him out of the semi-final against Cashel, and his return is a considerable boost.
While the Carrickedmond backs could be under pressure to contain the threat of the lively Connollyâ€™s forwards, determined defenders in Padraig McGrath, Oisin Farrell, Johnny Gerety and James Murray will surely give nothing easy away in the quest to emerge victorious.
Winning the Gerry Hennessy Cup (in memory of the former Connollyâ€™s player) would obviously give the Ballinalee boys tremendous satisfaction and while they will probably prove difficult to beat, a hesitant vote goes to Carrickedmond to come out on top in a close encounter.