Team’s “terrific spirit” turned game for Longford

Longford’s U21 manager Eugene McCormack heaped praise on his side after their two point win over Cavan in the Hastings Cup Final on Saturday.

Longford’s U21 manager Eugene McCormack heaped praise on his side after their two point win over Cavan in the Hastings Cup Final on Saturday.

Down by four at the break, McCormack had told his players to fight ‘til the end, which led to their stirring late comeback.

“We talked about the scenarios that could happen in a match and funny enough it panned out very similar. We said no matter what, we won’t look at the scoreboard and fight for every ball; just keep it going.

“We said we’ll see this out until the bitter end. The lads just kept plugging away and it eventually turned for us. This team has terrific heart and it didn’t surprise me one bit,” he told the Leader.

After comprehensively defeating Roscommon and Wicklow in their previous games, Cavan provided much stiffer opposition for Longford and McCormack admitted it took them a while to get to grips with Cavan

“Cavan are a fantastic side, we have to give them credit. This was a great test for us, no disrespect to the two teams we played beforehand. It nearly took us 40 minutes to come at them.

“We thought we could do something different on the ball, rather than just do the simple thing. We had time in the previous games but not today. There laid the problems we kind of brought on ourselves. It was great to get over the line. It was a great goal from Daniel Mimnagh; we just kept at it.”

Mimnagh is just one of a number of Emmet Óg players in the Longford panel. After their success last year, McCormack believes that they’re bringing their winning mentality into the county set-up.

“It’s a winning habit, that’s what it is. The other boys coming in and rubbing shoulders with them and it’s rubbing off. Everyone there put their shoulder to the wheel. We have 32 on the panel, everyone working very hard.”

Although the Killoe side provide the bulk of the panel there’s a good mix of players from different clubs around the county. It’s something that McCormack is pleased with.

“There are good footballers in every club in Longford. We did an awful amount of trials and every club was targeted. You can see the fruits of what was picked out of it in the end.”

Longford now have to wait until the beginning of March for their Leinster Championship game with Carlow or Dublin.

The Carrickedmond man believes the Hastings Cup is ideal preparation for his side.

“It’s a great competition for us. This is the best preparation we could get for the Dublin game. You can’t beat competitive matches. We are a few weeks away from the championship but there’s confidence in the team now.

“It’s a bit of silverware for the lads. I told them it was about time we got Hastings Cup medals in our pockets here in Longford. It hurt me badly that we weren’t getting them over the last number of years especially as it’s a Longford competition. I’d love if the game was tomorrow. With the help of God we can prepare as well as we can. Stay injury free, that’s the key.”