If Longford want to meet their target for the league campaign and gain promotion to Division 3 they know they have to pick up something against Fermanagh in Enniskillen on Saturday evening next (throw-in 7.30pm).
After drawing with rivals Roscommon at Pearse Park in their opening game, Longford know they can’t afford to drop any more points at home and need to get as many points as they can away from home.
Fermanagh will provide a very stern test for Longford. They have a new man at the helm now who they would like to impress, John O’Neill, who took over from Malachy O’Rourke. The Lisnaskea Emmett’s clubman was part of Charlie Mulgrew’s back-room team in 2005. Like Ryan, promotion is the aim for him too.
During the McKenna Cup, O’Neill used a number of new players but has several experienced guys to call on for their league campaign.
Two-time All-Star Barry Owens has been handed the captain’s armband for the year after making a return from injury. James Sherry and Mark Little are just two of their players that can cause trouble for Longford.
Fermanagh won their opening league game on Sunday last, defeating Carlow by seven points. Longford manager Glenn Ryan went down to Dr Cullen Park to look at the Ernesiders and was impressed by what he saw.
“They are the team that everyone is expecting to get promoted this year. It will certainly be a tough test for us in Enniskillen on Saturday. They are a well organised side. They’ve a couple of very good inside forwards and a strong midfield. Any team that has a couple of good ball winners and who can finish are always going to be dangerous,” he told the Leader.
With Wicklow and Roscommon leading the table on three points Longford know they have to come away with something on Saturday if they want to stay in contention. Ryan knows it’s going to be tough in Brewster Park.
He said, “Any away game is a tough one. You would hope you get full points at home and pick something up away. In that case we probably dropped a point at home the last day against Roscommon. We have to now go out and try and make up for that.”
Longford were dealt a blow in that game against Roscommon when centre-half back Enda Williams went off with a shoulder injury. There had been speculation that the Clonguish clubman could be facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines but Ryan admitted the full extent of the injury won’t be known until this week.
“We have to wait and see what happens. He is going for a scan this week and we won’t know anything for sure until we get that results of that. Hopefully we will see him back playing soon. If not, it’s an opportunity for someone to come in and do a job,” said the Longford boss.
Although Longford still have a number of players out injured Ryan is pleased with the progress they’ve been making and they should return to the panel soon.
He said, “There are more positives than negatives. We have fellas coming back in and if you put them together with what we have it makes the panel stronger. Kevin Mulligan is doing good and Francie McGee is back kicking a bit of ball and doing a small bit of running.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s game the Longford manager is confident his side can get something in Enniskillen. He knows how important this game is; even at this early stage in the league.
“There are big games that have to be won if you want to be promoted and this is one of them. We made was a positive start to the league. We have a point on the board. We know there’s going to be no easy games but we’ll be hoping for a win on Saturday,” Ryan said.