Since Glenn Ryan took charge of Longford in late 2008 the team has made steady progress but it wasn’t until this year that Ryan got his first Leinster Championship win as manager when they defeated Laois 1-10 to 0-12 at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park a couple of weeks ago.
That most significant success came on the back of arguably Ryan’s best year in charge of the county; gaining promotion to Division 2, going unbeaten in the league campaign and winning the Division 3 title. Things hopefully can only get better for Longford.
Prior to his appointment as Longford manager, Glenn had won the Leinster U-21 title as coach with his native Kildare and led them to the All-Ireland Final where they were beaten by Kerry. But Ryan got off to a bad start with Longford when they were relegated to Division 4.
In the 2009 Leinster Championship they were defeated in the first round by Wicklow. In the opening round of the qualifiers they got the better of Leitrim but then lost to eventual All-Ireland champions Kerry in Round 2 at Pearse Park.
Ryan’s second year in charge looked like developing into the worst of his reign as Longford only managed to beat Kilkenny and London in Division 4 of the National League and then lost out to Louth in the opening round of the Leinster Championship.
But something magical happened on Saturday June 26th 2010 when they sprang a major shock to overcome Mayo in the first round of the All-Ireland Qualifiers at Pearse Park and while defeated by Down in Round 2 at the Newry grounds they produced a gallant display against the eventual All-Ireland finalists.
The last two years has brought about a big transformation in Longford’s fortunes. Last season they gained promotion from Division 4 and beat Roscommon in the League final but their losing streak in the Leinster Championship continued when they lost to Laois in a first round game they should have won at O’Moore Park. There was some consolation thereafter as they trounced Cavan in Round 1 of the All-Ireland Qualifiers but had to settle for second best against Tyrone in the next round at Pearse Park.
The main aim for Longford this year was to mount a strong challenge for promotion in Division 3 of the National League and to beat Laois in the Leinster Championship. They achieved both targets and now prepare to face Wexford for the third time this season.
Glenn Ryan is looking forward to facing a side he knows all too well. “I am really looking forward to the championship game in Croke Park, ” he told the Leader. “Wexford are a very good team who reached the Leinster Final last year and were most competitive in the unlucky narrow defeat by Dublin. It promises to be a cracking game on Sunday and hopefully we will come out on top.”