Longford minors manager Gareth Johnston believes that if his side put in the performance they are capable of then they can defeat Dublin in the first round of the Leinster Championship at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday next, throw-in 1.30pm.
Johnston admitted that Longford are not going out to make up the numbers but in fact are going out to win the game.
“We are not going for damage limitation against Dublin. We are going in to win the game. Just because you are a small county doesn’t mean you are a weak county, I do believe that. It’s all about those lads on the pitch. We have had a good conversation about Dublin and are going to go out with all guns blazing. That’s the way I want to play football and so do all the lads. As long as they give the performance that is in them we won’t be too far off,” Gareth told the Leader.
As preparation for the championship Longford have played in both the Leinster and Connacht Leagues and suffered just one defeat. Johnston though wasn’t too bothered about the results, only the performances.
“We are looking at performances more so than wins or losses at this stage. Some of them have been very good, others poor. Sometimes we won where we dug it out and didn’t play particularly well. When you come into the championship and if you get your performances right, the result will take care of itself.”
Having those competitive games have been so beneficial for Longford according to their manager. “It’s great for us because it puts a structure in the season. We knew months in advance what we were going to be doing and knew the week before the Dublin game we would have a break. It’s a great way of doing it and it was perfect preparation for us. We are going into the Dublin game in good shape,” Johnston said.
The Longford boss admires the never say die attitude that his side have shown in so many games and also the winning mentality they have developed. “There is a great belief within everyone in the squad. We are going for it against Dublin and will try and dig it out. This team know how to do that. They have dug it out in a lot of games and you can’t really train that into teams, they have it themselves. They are a group of guys who have won a lot together in recent years. We have some very good individuals and the teamwork together is also good.”
Looking ahead to the game, Johnston has done some homework on Dublin but the focus is very much on Longford’s own game. “We know a bit about Dublin and we are not going in blind. We are not too pushed about individual players. We know what they are going to do and after that it’s up to ourselves. If you start worrying about the opposition you will have things to work on. It’s going to be a step-up but they have it in them to tackle this tough task.”
Johnston has urged Longford supporters to come out in big numbers on Saturday to give the lads the support they need and deserve. “We need support. We need a good crowd behind us. Dublin are going to be out of the city and will be wary coming down to Longford. We have a good team and will play good football. We are not going to sit back, put 15 men behind the ball and hope for the best. We are going to go at Dublin and hopefully we will be good enough to come out on top.”