Going into the Leinster Championship campaign, the Longford U-21s have taken each game as it came and it was the same as they prepared for the provincial final against Wexford at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise this Wednesday night.
Longford have done it the hard way to get this far, beating Meath and Westmeath. Longford captain Colm P Smith told the Leader: “We had a hard draw at the start of the year; the first game against Meath or Dublin. We played Meath and came through that. Once we got over them we looked at the next game which was against Westmeath. We have moved on and have Wexford next; we are taking each game as it comes and it has worked well for us so far.”
Kildare, Dublin, Meath and Westmeath were the four teams tipped to challenge for Leinster U-21 honours this year; no one predicted Longford and Wexford. Smith admitted that although both teams may have surprised everyone, they were confident they could do well. “It probably was a big shock for people outside of Wexford and Longford. But we knew in here we had a strong team. In the last couple of years at minor level we have done well and there are a lot of good players coming through. It’s the same in Wexford too,” he said.
Longford have a number of last year’s Leinster winning minors in their side and the captain believes it’s great to have winners like them in the squad. He said, “The boys coming in from the minors have a great positive attitude. Winning a Leinster title was great for a county like Longford. They have brought a winning mentality with them and everyone has bought into that. It really has spread throughout the squad.”
While manager Padraic Davis and his selectors worry about Wexford, it’s left to the players to concentrate on their own game. Smith is happy for himself and the rest of the team to focus on themselves and not worry about the opposition. “In preparation for the previous two games the mentors watched Meath and Westmeath before we played them. We just focused on our game, which is one thing we can control. We feel that if we perform to our best then hopefully it will be enough to beat Wexford,” he said.
Looking ahead to the big game the Abbeylara clubman is confident that Longford can take the Leinster U-21 Cup back to the county for the first time. “Before every game this year we have been confident. No one gave us a chance against Meath in the first round but we had confidence in ourselves. It was the same against Westmeath; we had the belief and will to win. That won’t change for the Leinster final and hopefully everything will go well for us,” said Smith.