Back-to-back promotions from Divisions four and three sees Longford start their Division two campaign away to Wexford on Sunday next.
Over the course of the next two months, Longford will face the likes of Armagh, Derry and Galway, as well as their Leinster counterparts Westmeath, Laois, Louth and Wexford.
Undoubtedly Division Two will be a step-up for Longford but manager Glenn Ryan is relishing the challenge of facing some of the top teams in the country.
“It’s a step-up from Division 3 but as you move along you expect teams to be more difficult. There’s going to be some very interesting matches and games that we are looking forward to. It’s exciting times. If you’re capable of competing at those levels it will bring you along and help you all the time that you’re developing,” he told the Leader.
Sunday’s opponents Wexford are a side that Longford have become very familiar with, having met four times last year. The Slaneysiders have a new man in charge with Aidan O’Brien taking over from Jason Ryan. The Longford boss knows Wexford will be out to impress their new boss.
“It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll be set up this year with the new change in management. I’m sure that everybody will be trying to impress. At times there’s a great impetus in a panel when a new man comes in.”
Unlike previous campaigns Longford have a few injuries to contend with and won’t have their full complement of players. Ryan hopes new players can come in show what they are capable of.
“We’ll have a couple of injuries going into the campaign. It’s something that we haven’t had at this time in the last couple of years. The priority is to get those injuries right and get those players fit for later. It’s going to give other fellas a chance and it’s a great opportunity for us to strengthen our panel.”
With opening games against Wexford and at home to Westmeath before a break in the league, Ryan knows how important it is for Longford to make a good start to their campaign.
“We’ve learnt over the last two years that it’s a great boost to get a good start. There is no doubt we’d be delighted if we got the same start that we were fortunate to get in the last two years. We’ve trained well and we’ll be hoping to get something out of those couple of games.”
The Kildare man is under no illusions about how tough Division 2 is going to be for Longford but he hopes his side can be competitive and preform to the best of their ability.
“We want to be competitive in all games and do the best we can. We have a number of goals set out this year that we hope to achieve during the league. We’ll see how we go and how far we go to achieving them. We have been trying to improve the whole time.
“The only way you know you are improving is playing against better teams. It’ll be a great challenge and one we’ve prepared a couple of years for.”
Apart from Armagh and Galway, Longford will know plenty about their opponents in Division Two.
They’ll also know that they’re capable of registering enough wins to establish themselves in Division Two this season, starting next Sunday with a very tough assignment away to Wexford.