In the aftermath of the major blow for Longford football with the dreaded drop to Division 4 of the National League, the focus is now fixed on the county minors who take on Dublin in the Leinster Championship first round clash at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday next, throw-in 1.30pm.
And there are high hopes for the Longford U-18s on the evidence of their great achievement in winning the Leinster League competition which involved half of the counties in the country (including Cork, Tipperary, Clare and Limerick).
While Gareth Johnston’s talented squad are facing a most difficult task against the might of Dublin, the pressure is off to a certain extent as all the Round 1 losers in the Leinster Championship will get a second chance through the ‘back door’ in the qualifiers - a route that Longford have become familiar with in recent years.
Home advantage is a definite boost for the minors in their quest to conquer the might of Dublin, who are sure to be strong as usual in this grade. Having said that, they failed to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Leinster League after losing out to Meath in the group and Longford would appear to have a decent chance of causing an upset.
After suffering just one defeat (against Galway in Tuam Stadium by the slender margin of two points in the Connacht League) in a total of ten competitive fixtures in the build-up to the championship, Longford are in very good shape for the match that really matters and will be quietly confident of beating Dublin.
Team captain Shane Kenny (Rathcline) and David McGivney (Mullinalaghta) are two of the key figures on the Longford team and the probable midfield pairing are capable of making a big impact in their efforts to supply the attack with a decent supply of the ball.
A couple of more Mullinalaghta men, Rian Brady and Aidan McElligott, will be operating in the full-forward-line with the ability to get the vital scores while the so energetic Nigel Rabbitte (Abbeylara) can also make his presence felt - whether he features in the attack or defence.
Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connolly’s) and Ronan Sweeney (Clonguish) are expected to command the centre-half-back and full-back positions respectively and there is generally a fine balance to this minor team who will be hoping to score a famous win over Dublin.