This time last year Michael Quinn watched Longford take on Laois in the first round of the Leinster Senior Football Championship in an Irish pub in Australia. On Sunday the Killoe clubman will have a prominent role to play when he makes his debut in the championship as Longford again face Laois.
“I always kept an eye on Longford,” Quinn told the Leader. “I couldn’t see the Division 4 League Final on TV but when the championship came around I watched the game in an Irish pub over there. It’s a bit of a change being in Australia watching it to now playing in the big game this year and I am really looking forward to the occasion.
“Getting the game against Wexford in the Division 3 League Final in Croke Park a few weeks ago was almost like a championship clash. We kind of have a fair idea where we are at now.”
It has been a remarkable transition for Quinn since his return from the Australian Football League late last year. He has established himself in the heart of the Longford defence and was one of their best performers in the league. He believes the AFL has helped him greatly. “It has probably helped me make the transition to senior football quicker. I suppose if I was back here and didn’t head over to Australia I would not have progressed or made an impact as quick because I wasn’t as strong physically. That side of things has helped me fit in a lot faster.”
Longford go into the Pearse Park encounter on the back of an unbeaten run in the National League where they gained promotion and won the Division3 title. Quinn admitted that although delighted with the league campaign, championship is completely different. “Once the championship starts the league goes out the window. A lot of people in Laois will be looking at it that way. The league has helped us with form and consistency but at the end of the day it is one more game and you have to put in the same effort. You are going to be judged off the game in Leinster, not the league.”
Although Laois played in Division 1 this season, many people have tipped Longford to win this championship game after their unlucky one point defeat at O’Moore Park last year. But Quinn is not paying much heed to the favourites tag. “People are tipping Longford but we know ourselves it’s unfamiliar territory; making us favourites for games. We are not taking anything for granted and not reading into it too much. When you do you start believing in your own hype. We’re going to make sure it doesn’t affect us.”
Promotion was one of the aims for Longford this year but the main target was defeating Laois in the Leinster Championship. Sunday’s game is what the players have been building up to. “We’ve talked about Laois since the start of the year and that was our goal. The league was about getting a bit of form and consistency going and we have got that. We have done all the preparation and we are just looking forward to the game at this stage,” said Quinn.