Jack Sheedy began his reign as manager of the Longford senior footballers as a very experimental side, featuring a number of newcomers, scored a fairly emphatic win (1-19 to 2-7) over Carlow in Round 1 of the O’Byrne Cup at Dr. Cullen Park on Sunday last.
Sheedy and his selector Liam Keenan fielded a first fifteen that included just two players, John Keegan and Francis McGee, that started against Wicklow in the 2013 Leinster Championship first round game at Aughrim while Colm P Smyth was brought on in the second half of last Sunday’s clash against Carlow.
Aidan Rowan and Fergal Battrim, both of whom were introduced during the course of that bitterly disappointing defeat against Wicklow last year, were selected on the team for the first competitive fixture of the new season at Dr. Cullen Park which marked the return of Brian Kavanagh to the county colours and a big boost for new manager Sheedy.
After missing the entire 2013 season, Kavanagh kicked five points in the very easy win over a poor Carlow outfit while McGee (1-4) and Colmcille newcomer Paul McKeon (0-5) also figured prominently in a lively attack.
The home county failed to register a solitary score in the first half as they trailed by 1-13 to 0-0 at the break but things improved considerably for Carlow when they brought on their classy midfielder Brendan Murphy on the changeover and they managed to close the gap to nine points in the finish.
Longford, missing many regulars for different reasons, now face a real serious test against Kildare in Round 2 of the O’Byrne Cup at Pairc Chiaran, Cashel this Wednesday night (throw-in 7.45pm) when a place in the semi-finals of the pre-season tournament will effectively be at stake.
New Kildare manager Jason Ryan (the former Wexford supremo) fielded a fairly strong side in the landslide 4-24 to 0-12 win over Athlone IT and he obviously means business, even at this early stage of the 2014 season.
Therefore, Longford are likely to find it extremely difficult in their quest to spring a surprise and particularly so with Jack Sheedy set to continue to experiment with his big squad of players in the build up to the National Football League Division 3 campaign.
Longford’s remaining fixture in Group B of the O’Byrne Cup is against Athlone IT at Leo Casey Park in Ballymahon on Sunday next, throw-in 2pm.