Having guided Longford to back-to-back promotions and two national league titles in successive years manager Glenn Ryan is after the one thing that has eluded him since taking charge of the county squad - a Leinster Championship first round win.
Longford take on Laois at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday next and Ryan believes that victory would be a just reward for his players hard work. “It would be brilliant for the lads. That’s the most important thing,” he told the Leader. “The fellas have worked so hard over the last number of months and years. It would be a reward for their so committed efforts. It doesn’t work out like that though, just because you put in the work, you ultimately get rewarded. You have to go and perform and that’s what we have to do.”
Longford come into this game on the back of an unbeaten Division 3 league campaign but are facing a Laois side that played in Division 1. The Longford boss admitted that the valuable experience gained in the top flight will hold the visitors in good stead.
“Laois were performing at a very high level. They did remarkably well to get up to Division 1 last year and were unfortunate this season to get relegated. But they were very competitive and we are up against a very good side. Leagues will be forgotten about come Sunday afternoon. All we can say in terms of the league is that it was good preparation for us. We have a huge amount of work to do based on our league performances and there are a lot of areas we need to improve on.”
Although many people feel Longford can beat Laois, particularly at Pearse Park, Ryan remains cautious and believes that Justin McNulty’s side are favourites to claim victory on Sunday. “Laois will expect to beat us and rightly so. They are a strong team and performed in Division 1. We know it’s going to be a tough task and we will have to be at our best to beat them.”
With the game in Longford, Ryan has urged supporters to come out in force to lend their support. “The lads deserve a big support after putting in such a huge effort. I have no doubt that the Longford people will come out in big numbers and make it a real good championship atmosphere; one that our fellas will enjoy. You would hope that a large vociferous home crowd getting behind the Longford team will make an impact.”