Saturday June 7th is a big day for Longford GAA with the county hurlers taking on Fermanagh in the Lory Meagher Cup Final at Croke Park (throw-in 12 noon) while later that evening the centre of attention will switch to the county footballers who are at home to Wexford in the Leinster Senior Championship quarter-final (throw-in 7pm).
Since Wexford native Frank Browne took charge of the Longford hurlers, considerable progress has been made and he will be hoping that his players can make amends for the bitter disappointment of losing out to a strong Warwickshire side in last year’s Lory Meagher Cup title decider.
For the Longford footballers, the first round win over Offaly was a great lift for all concerned and a badly needed boost for new manager Jack Sheedy who has succeeded in guiding the midlanders to a quarter-final showdown against arch rivals Wexford with the counties clashing in the championship for the third season in succession.
At this same stage in Leinster two years ago, Longford blew a glorious opportunity of beating Wexford in the replay at O’Connor Park in Tullamore as Glenn Ryan’s side surrendered a four-point lead late on in eventually going down by the minimum of margins - much to the bitter disappointment of the demoralised supporters.
And another close encounter materialised in the second round of the All-Ireland Qualifiers at Pearse Park last July when the teams finished all square at the end of normal time and a nasty brawl then broke out before order was eventually restored.
Wexford went on to win the match in the extra-time period and while the slaneysiders are not as strong as they once were with key players Redmond Barry and David Murphy since retired from the inter-county scene, the current squad were still good enough to relegate Longford from Division 3 of the National League this season.
Jack Sheedy’s side suffered the severe setback of making the dreaded drop into Division 4 after losing the final round fixture at Wexford Park back in early April and revenge would be very sweet indeed in their quest to earn a crack at the All-Ireland champions Dublin (or Laois) in the Leinster Championship semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday June 29th.
It remains to be seen whether Longford can do the football and hurling double on Saturday week, which would be a great achievement, but at least the county are in the GAA spotlight and the supporters are enjoying the buzz that it brings.