Longford Leader columnist, Mattie Fox
As an emerging football team make their way to higher levels, they inevitably meet a team who - through years of development have become armed with a residual fitness quotient - are better equipped than the new arrivals, and when that happens, the new team finds that their reliance on a strong and powerful bench is paramount to success.
So, when the developing team is short several regulars, for one reason or another, they quickly discover that in the modern game substitutions are the vital key.
Kildare have been dining at the top table of Gaelic football for several seasons now, and although they’re a team full of flaws, nobody can ever say that they’re not fit, and that they’re not physically in the same league as Dublin.
Powerful physically, Kildare have one of the strongest teams in the championship, although their shooting, and other aspects of their play and strategic approach, let them down.
Coming from years of continually training winning minor teams as a feeder system, the Kildare seniors have a bounty of county footballers, who are big, strong, and mobile.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to attend the game on Saturday evening, but having listened to most of the game, it was easy to tell that Longford stayed within a point of Kildare for the vast majority of the game. Indeed they possibly could have won had they scored both, or even one of, the goals that were missed in the first half. Again, Longford will learn from that.
Placing a shot is equally vital, to avoid woodwork & goalkeeper.
Yet, Kildare were probably the best equipped to go further in the ever decreasing qualifiers, as Longford felt the effects of a diminishing panel, with injuries, suspension, and plain unfortunate happenings.
When I heard prior to the game that Longford were short a few players, my thoughts turned to the inches that win big games.
Longford were short several inches, through no fault of their own.
The black card dismissal of Padraig McCormack sounded rather harsh, and whether or not that is the case, that was the moment when the game began to turn.
Padraig is one of Longford’s most valuable players, and a real leader, so it was bound to be a hammer blow.
But in the aftermath of losing like that, it’s hard to absorb.
Yet, winners are losers who give it one more try.
Longford have really progressed in 2018.