Longford's Mattie Fox: Lots still to learn but Longford show promise
Sometimes in football, we are forced to face facts, and recognise that maybe our team isn’t really ready for division two, just yet.
This is not to denigrate anything that is being done by Longford management, or indeed the team itself, but many of the new crop haven’t experienced enough to win inter county games. Everyone understands transition, and consolidation. Whilst they have made enormous progress, between coaching and what they’ve learned from Padraic Davis and Co, it still takes the hard lesson of reality to know what it actually takes to win games.
They need to learn that every single score counts. Every inch counts, every pass counts, there is no escape from the pressure of senior inter-county experience. It has to be tasted, in a full blown match situation, before guys really grasp fully the limited number of times a team gets to put a game away.
Longford missed two spectacular goal chances. One as a result of an effortless sensational long ball from James McGivney, inch perfect which Darragh Doherty caught behind his marker, but instinctively rushed the kick. Straight into the goalkeepers hands the shot went. Darragh is a very promising player, and shouldn’t be blamed, as players need to learn, that such a chance doesn’t come a second time in a game. That shot could have changed the tenor of the game.
But again, too many Longford players were just that bit below the mark in quality terms, whereas Laois looked very composed almost all through the game. Their subs counted when they came in, though each replacing yet another experienced player.
Even when Longford were ahead, I thought Laois still looked most likely to win. On balance slightly better players, all over the pitch.
It’s still early in the year and Longford are recovering their previous lack of experience on the field. When John Keegan plays next he’ll be more climatised back to inter county. That will make a huge difference. Mickey Quinn at centre back makes Longford a harder team to beat, because that makes the entire half back line stronger. Darren Gallagher had a superb game but tired in the second half, after scoring three terrific points in the first.
I thought overall that Longford showed great promise, and when more players come back as the ground becomes easier to navigate, they’ll be a hard task for anyone to beat. But losing Conor Berry was the turning point. He was playing out of his skin, but every time he had to travel too far from goals - to right or left - to make it count enough.
But without doubt he’s a star player, and should be given time now to get the injury corrected, that means following the rehab carefully. Longford needs more physical players who can’t be pushed around too easily. All that said, it’s not over yet.