On Sunday next the Longford senior footballers will play in Croke Park for the third time in just over a year when they take on Wexford in the Leinster quarter-final and full-back Barry Gilleran is looking forward to the experience of championship football in GAA Headquarters.
It has been seven years since Longford last played a championship game in Croke Park and Sunday’s opponents are very familiar as the counties clash for the third time this season. “We know Wexford well enough at this stage and we are well capable of beating them again. It’s great to be in Croke Park playing championship football and we are really looking forward to it,” Gilleran told the Leader.
Longford have beaten Wexford twice this year in the National League on their way to winning the Division 3 title but Gilleran admits that there is a big difference between the league and championship. “We had a good league run but when it comes to the championship that particular form goes out the window. You could see that in the first half against Laois when we were six points down at half-time. But we dug in deep in the second half, went at it and came out on top. Now we find ourselves in another championship game and anything can happen on the day.”
There has been a lot of talk from the Wexford camp about making amends for last year’s Leinster Final disappointment and that they are focussed on making another big impact in the battle for the provincial title. Gilleran is not bothered about their views and he believes Longford have a team that will do their talking on the pitch. “I don’t heed what is said in papers and they can say what they want. We will just concentrate on what we are doing.”
“We have a very experienced side with lots of quality there in Paul Barden, Sean McCormack, Brian Kavanagh and Damien Sheridan. And there are some talented young lads who have come into the squad, like Colm Smyth and Mickey Quinn to name just a couple. They have all gelled together and things are in good shape.”
Having gone through the league campaign unbeaten, finishing up with the Division 3 Final victory over Wexford and the subsequent success against Laois in the opening round of the Leinster Championship, Longford have developed a winning mentality. According to the Slashers clubman the belief is there that they can continue on their winning run. “We believe we can advance a stage further. Everyone is coming into training in a confident frame of mind and you cannot beat that winning feeling.”
Barry Gilleran has played a prominent part in Longford’s success this year but is modest about his own performances. “I am happy enough with the way I am playing but at the end of the day it’s all about a team performance. We have a great panel of players and we are getting the reward for all the hard work put in.”