Longford head to London looking for another victory

Michael Quinn on the ball for Longford in this tussle with Leitrim opponents. The other Longford player in the picture is Barry Gilleran. Action from the recent National Football League Division 4 game in Carrick-on-Shannon.  Photo: Kevin Leavy
After collecting three points out of a possible four in a positive start to the National League campaign, things are looking better for the Longford senior footballers who head to London this weekend with a strong chance of extending their unbeaten run in Division 4.

After collecting three points out of a possible four in a positive start to the National League campaign, things are looking better for the Longford senior footballers who head to London this weekend with a strong chance of extending their unbeaten run in Division 4.

Overcoming Antrim in the previous round was a badly needed boost for Jack Sheedy’s side in the quest to gain promotion and while confidence has been restored to a certain extent, a fully fit Michael Quinn is a key factor in the tough battle to bounce straight back into Division 3.

Hampered by a hamstring injury, Quinn was unable to start against Antrim but made his presence felt when brought on in the closing stages of that tight contest at fog bound Pearse Park.

The Killoe man (the hero for DCU in their Sigerson Cup success) is a real driving force for Longford and hopefully will be in a position to line-out at midfield against London at the Ruislip grounds on Saturday next, throw-in 2pm.

While the Exiles generally struggle in the National League, with inferior fitness levels often cited as the main problem, the current squad have made a decent enough start in Division 4 and made it difficult for Offaly in the opening round fixture in Ruislip.

The faithful county only held a slender 0-2 to 0-1 lead at the break but turned on the power to fire over six points in a row in the second half before London were given a late glimmer of hope with a goal from a penalty converted by Lorcan Mulvey in the 64th minute.

Offaly eventually came on top, 0-9 to 1-2, and there was more encouragement for London in the next round as they pushed Carlow all the way at Dr Cullen Park.

Two second half goals proved decisive as Carlow established a comfortable 2-7 to 0-9 advantage, only for London to come storming back to level matters with four points in succession through Scott Conroy, Conor Sheridan (2) and Lorcan Mulvey.

Carlow regained the upper hand late on with a couple of scores to clinch a hard earned win (2-9 to 0-13) but London will have taken a lot of positives out of that narrow defeat and will feel that they are capable of putting it up to Longford on the tight Ruislip pitch.

London reached their first ever Connacht senior football championship final in 2013 (losing to Mayo in the title decider) and ran Limerick close in Round 1 of the All-Ireland Qualifiers last season when they went down by just three points (1-16 to 1-13) at the Gaelic Grounds.

While that considerable progress has to be respected, it has been hindered by the departure of several players that featured for the past two seasons and therefore makes it difficult for London manager Paul Coggins to build on all the hard work he is doing.

But two of their best known players are still in action, notably powerful midfielder Mark Gottsche and Lorcan Mulvey who continues to be a real threat in the full-forward-line.

Born in Germany with the family moving to Oranmore when he was just five years old, Gottsche has played football with Galway from minor to senior level and has the ability to make a big impact against Longford.

Mark was the man-of-the-match in the shock win (1-12 to 0-14) over Sligo in the Connacht Championship first round tie in May 2013 but was then plagued with injury that sidelined him for a considerable length of time.

However, Gottsche is now back in full swing for London while a prominent performance is also expected from former Cavan player Lorcan Mulvey with the Butlersbridge man having represented his native county at all levels.

On the back of London’s great run to the Connacht Final in 2013, Mulvey was nominated for an All-Star that season and the big target man is very much the dangerman in the Exiles attack.

While there are obviously other useful footballers on the ever changing London team, it will be a big surprise if Longford fail to get out of Ruislip with two more vital league points in the bag.

Having said that, they cannot take anything for granted over in England but are expected to emerge victorious with a prolific forward line featuring such established players in Brian Kavanagh, Sean McCormack and Francis McGee paving the way for a win.