Jack Sheedy feels that his team have the potential to make further progress

Leinster senior football managers (left to right): Jason Ryan, Kildare; Harry Murphy, Wicklow; Jack Sheedy, Longford; Jim Gavin, Dublin; John Horan, Chairman of the Leinster GAA Council; Mick O'Dowd, Meath; Aidan O'Rourke, Louth; Emmett McDonnell, Offaly, and Aidan O'Brien, Wexford, in attendance at the launch of the 2014 Leinster Senior Football Championship in Farmleigh House, Dublin, last week.  Picture credit: Barry Cregg/SPORTSFILE
Longford boss Jack Sheedy loved playing championship football and enjoyed Leinster Championship success while lining out for Dublin. As he prepares for his first championship game as a manager, he is hopeful his team can play to their potential in the first round tie against Offaly at Pearse Park on Sunday next.

Longford boss Jack Sheedy loved playing championship football and enjoyed Leinster Championship success while lining out for Dublin. As he prepares for his first championship game as a manager, he is hopeful his team can play to their potential in the first round tie against Offaly at Pearse Park on Sunday next.

“These are the games you want to play in. Anyone that puts on a county jersey, that has to be their aspiration. I know that all the guys want to do that. You have got to go the hard way about it and you have got to be prepared because I expect a tough game of football, I don’t expect anything other than us putting in a massive performance against Offaly. If we play to our potential then you would like to think the result would take care of itself,” he told the Leader.

Longford go into this big game on the back of a dismal league campaign which saw them relegated to Division 4. Although he wanted Longford to consolidate their place in Division 3, May the 18th was always in Sheedy’s plans as he tried out several new players during the league. “We were looking to see as many options as we can get and that’s why guys were played in different positions and out of position in some cases. That’s where we need to develop. We could have been conservative and play the same guys all the time. We wanted to develop things and we have done that. We have a fairly strong idea as to where we are going and who we are going with over the next, hopefully, couple of months. If the guys perform it will be great, if they don’t it looks like there are other guys that are going to step in and do it. We are relatively happy with what we have and where it is going but we need to push on a little bit more. We need to keep raising the bar.”

Just like Longford, Offaly were also relegated to Division 4 but performances improved for them in the final games of their league campaign. Having worked in Offaly as a club manager (Edenderry), Sheedy knows only too well how difficult Sunday’s game will be.

“Offaly, like ourselves, are back down in Division 4 and they won’t be happy with that. Offaly traditionally have always been a team that put in, regardless of what has happened previously, a good performance in the championship. I have no doubt they will do that against us so we are well warned.”

Sheedy hopes his side can put in the performance that they are capable of producing. “It’s important that we play the game at our pace. We have to try and make it a little easier for ourselves; certainly a little less difficult. If we do that we will have a good crack of achieving victory over Offaly. You have got to do the hard work; there are no shortcuts to it as every team steps up a couple of gears when playing in the championship and the whole mindset changes.”