On the strength of the great win over National League Division 1 finalists Derry in the opening round of the All-Ireland Qualifiers, Jack Sheedy’s appointment for a second year in charge of the Longford senior football squad was ratified at a special County Board meeting on Thursday night last.
Jack is back to boss Longford for the 2015 season and he is joined on the management team by former Ardagh and county player Philip Kiernan (an ex-Westmeath senior mentor) while another local selector will be appointed along with a coach with inter-county experience to work with Sheedy.
But the general opinion is that the victory over a depleted Derry side (short seven regulars) at Celtic Park back in June is only papering over the cracks that appeared throughout Sheedy’s first season in charge, although Longford did manage to score a rare win in the Leinster Championship even if it was at the expense of a poor Offaly outfit.
That gave the long suffering supporters a real glimmer of hope with another home game against Wexford in the next round and supposedly a big chance of reaching the provincial semi-final for the first time since 1988 but it failed to materialise amid widespread despair.
Just a solitary point separated the sides in the finish as Longford lacked the belief to get across the line and while the subsequent success against Derry was a tremendous short term boost, it proved to be a false dawn as Sheedy’s side were brought crashing back down to earth in Round 2 of the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
Negative tactics contributed to a humiliating 17 points defeat against the Division 4 league champions Tipperary in Thurles and it had to be said that the state of the Longford senior football team hit rock bottom on that sad day, even though Tipperary did go on to score a fine win over Laois in the next round.
Jack Sheedy now faces a very tough task indeed to stop the struggle that has plunged the county into the depths of Division 4 next year. Getting relegated to the bottom tier of the National League was a bad blow, to say the least, and it remains to be seen what Sheedy can do to improve the current poor situation.
Jack sought a second term in charge of the county team and the powerbrokers in Longford GAA have given the former Dublin footballer another chance to make the desired impact, although he has relinquished the positions of Under 21 and Junior manager to concentrate solely on revitalising the fortunes of the seniors on the rocky road to redemption!
Former Fr. Manning Gaels and county footballer Frank McNamee has been appointed the new manager of the Longford Under 21 squad, after serving as a selector in this grade last season, while Tony Devlin (Clonguish) will take charge of the Longford minors for the 2015 season.