After scoring a comfortable 10 points win over a poor Carlow outfit at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday evening last, Longford are now away to Clare in Round 2A of the All-Ireland Senior Football Qualifiers.
While it is probably the best possible draw for Jack Sheedy’s side, there is nothing easy about taking on Clare at Cusack Park in Ennis on Saturday July 4th (throw-in 5pm) but the players will still be fairly confident of making further progress in the championship.
Ravaged by injuries with David Tubridy and Podge Collins the most notable absentees, Clare were no match for Cork in the Munster semi-final at Pairc Ui Rinn when they crashed to a 12 points defeat but they did manage to overcome Limerick 0-15 to 0-13 in Ennis in the opening round of the 2015 championship.
So their manager Colm Collins (father of former Clare hurler Podge) will be viewing the clash against Longford as a good opportunity to get back on track with powerful midfielder Gary Brennan leading the charge on the road to redemption.
Clare were operating in Division 3 of the National League this season and beat Wexford, Sligo and Fermanagh to avoid relegation. Particularly significant was their emphatic 0-22 to 1-13 win over Sligo in Ennis when they showed what they are capable of producing at their best.
But Longford would appear to have at least a 50/50 chance of getting through to Round 3A of the All-Ireland Qualifiers and possibly earning a crack at Cavan or Roscommon. The other counties is the top half of the ‘back door’ draw are Fermanagh v Antrim with Offaly awaiting the losers of the Leinster semi-final between Kildare and Dublin.
Young guns Dessie Reynolds and Liam Connerton got the crucial goals in the second half as Longford gradually got the better of Carlow last weekend but can expect a much tougher game against Clare and particularly so with a tricky trip to Ennis.
Minors in action against Meath
The focus this weekend is firmly on the Longford minors who are in action against Meath in the Leinster Championship semi-final at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday next, throw-in 3pm.
Wins over Wicklow and Carlow have left the county U-18 footballers just one step away from a Croke Park appearance and Tony Devlin’s side will be quietly confident of springing a surprise.
But Meath are reputed to be a strong outfit and will be extremely hard beaten in the battle for a final spot.