Sheedy’s Longford primed for promotion push

Liam Cosgrove


Liam Cosgrove

Longford manager Jack Sheedy is hoping to get his side's promotion push off to a winning start against Leitrim. Photo Declan Gilmore
If Jack Sheedy is a man under pressure, he’s doing a fine job of concealing it.

If Jack Sheedy is a man under pressure, he’s doing a fine job of concealing it.

Depending on who you believe and what you read, the Dubliner faces an onerous task to hold onto his job following an inspid start to 2015.

Defeats to DCU, Meath and then Westmeath brought about much of that uncertainty as Longford’s Bord na Mona O’Byrne Cup campaign came to a premature end.

Throw in the unambiguous demand from county board chiefs that promotion is an absolute must, it’s perhaps hardly surprising why such a fuss is being made over the manager’s future.

Yet, for the man at the centre of it all, stress is something Sheedy showed precious little of as he looked ahead to next Sunday’s opening NFL Division 4 clash against Leitrim.

“There is no doubting everyone in Division 4 will have aspirations of getting promoted and we are certainly no different,” he remarked.

“There’s no doubting it will be a very difficult task and it will be a tough battle going up to Park Sean, but we will be going up there to get two points.”

It’s a target their hosts will doubtlessly be aiming towards under new manager Shane Ward.

Like Sheedy’s Longford, last year’s FBD League champions will be looking to get back to winning ways after relinquishing their title away to Sligo earlier this month.

“Leitrim are in a situation where they are re-organising.

“They have lost a couple of players but they have had some good performances in the FBD, but I would expect they will be happy enough with what they got from the FBD.”

That same sentiment is one Sheedy beholds of his own charges despite their current travails.

“There were some very positive aspects (to our O’Byrne Cup displays). We got some game time into some players who hadn’t got that before at that level. Overall, it was good to get a chance to look at guys to see what they have to offer.”

Experimentation is an approach that has been foisted on the Longford management team, arguably more out of design than by choice since the turn of the year.

Injuries and personal commitments to key players such as Paul Barden, Shane Mulligan, John Keegan and James McGivney barely scratch the surface.

Add in Dromard marksman Francis McGee and Killoe utility man Micheal Quinn, suddenly the selection headaches facing Sheedy and his backroom team is clear for all to see.

“The panel is always open ended, it’s a revolving door,” explained Sheedy.

“There will be room for new faces but we haven’t made a definitive decision on anyone in the panel.”

“I feel we have a number of players who are good enough to get on most teams in the country.

“But this is not about individuals. It’s about a group of players who work together and play together.

“There are guys with experience and there are guys from the U21s who I know will push hard and keep the standards up.”

Yet for all his ability to talk a good game, Sheedy knows all of that will count for nothing should his troops come unstuck next Sunday in Carrick-On-Shannon.

A fourth defeat in succession would only serve to heap further pressure on Sheedy’s broad shoulders, a result the former All-Star was doing his level best to ignore.

“It would make things more difficult,” he admitted when referring to his side’s promotion chances.

“But Division 4 is a league where teams are capable of taking points off each other and staying unbeaten will be a very difficult task.

“We can only concentrate on ourselves and take it one game at a time. There are seven matches in the league and we have to go out and try to win each one.”

Let’s hope for Sheedy and Longford’s sake, that objective becomes a reality this Sunday.