Longford have been punching above their weight in the Leinster Under 21 Football Championship in recent years but can they deliver another knock out blow by shocking Dublin again?
On their way to reaching the 2013 Leinster Final, Longford scored a sensational one-point win over Dublin at Parnell Park and a re-match is down for decision in the semi-final of the current U-21 championship at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise this Wednesday night, throw-in 7.30pm.
While Dublin have suffered a major setback with the classy Ciaran Kilkenny ruled out for the rest of the season after sustaining a cruciate knee ligament injury, U-21 manager Dessie Farrell is working with a serious squad of players who will be extremely hard beaten.
With other star players in Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion and other seniors in Cormac Costello, Eric Lowndes and Shane Carthy, it must be said that the Longford U-21s are given little chance of causing a massive upset against a powerful Dublin team backboned by members of the minor teams that contested All-Ireland Finals in 2011 (runners-up) and 2012 (winners).
The Dublin U-21s are favourites not only to win the Leinstetr title but also the All-Ireland but it was the same situation last season when ‘little’ Longford produced a magnificent performance to emerge victorious against all the odds.
The current side under former Dublin star Jack Sheedy worked really hard to eventually get the better of Westmeath, after a replay, and it was more of the same in the quarter-final at O’Moore Park when the midlanders came from six points down to beat Laois after extra-time.
Make no mistake about it, those three tough games should stand to Longford whereas it was only target practise for Dublin in their landslide 31-point victory over Carlow and the pressure might get to them if they should struggle to assert their superiority in the semi-final.
If Longford can get enough ball into scoring machine Robbie Smyth in the full-forward-line then who knows what might materialise but Dublin have a strong midfield pairing in Patrick O’Higgins and Shane Carthy who will make it difficult for James McGivney and Barry McKeon to win vital possession.
The fact that Dublin (1/7 favourites with the bookies to win the game) will have quality players in virtually every position on the pitch suggests that they should progress to the U-21 provincial decider against Offaly or Meath but stranger things have been known to happen and Longford will give it their best shot.