After losing by ten points against Kildare in the opening round, the Longford minor footballers are back in Leinster Championship action this Wednesday evening (April 27th) when they take on neighbouring rivals Westmeath and will be hoping to make the most of their second chance at Pearse Park, throw-in 7pm.
Longford, of course, recovered from a very heavy defeat against Offaly in the first round last year to come through the back door of the qualifiers on their way to a remarkable provincial title triumph and home advantage is a definite plus for the latest local derby against Westmeath in a repeat of the 2010 quarter-final tie in Mullingar.
On that occasion, Longford sprang a surprise to win by 1-6 to 0-6 and another close encounter could be in prospect to determine who advances to the second round of the qualifiers at home to Wicklow the following Tuesday evening, May 3 (throw-in 7pm) when a place in the quarter- finals will be at stake.
Although Westmeath crashed to a crushing 4-15 to 0-8 defeat against the title favourites Dublin in the opening round at Parnell Park, they are probably a better team than that final scoreline would appear to suggest and their main man is midfielder Dean McNicholas who occupied the same position against Longford last year.
Goalkeeper Darren Brady, defender David Lynch and forwards David McCormack and Paul Fennell also featured in the 2010 Cusack Park clash and Westmeath are sure to provide a stern test for the current Longford side who will have to improve on their disappointing display against Kildare if further progress is to be made.
James McGivney (Mullinalaghta) and Robbie Smyth (Abbeylara) are very much the key figures on the minor team, after also lining-out for the County U-21s who reached the Leinster Final this season, and the Northern Gaels duo will need to make a big impact in the battle to overcome the challenge of Westmeath.
Current Longford minor team manager Martin Mulleady can also call on the services of three other players who featured in the successful 2010 campaign, notably Conor Clarke (Longford Slashers), Barry McKeon (Colmcille) and Cillian Lynn (Mostrim), but the pressure is now on in the must win game against Westmeath as the eventual losers will make an early exit from the Leinster Championship.