With both teams already promoted, there will be nothing at stake when Longford and Wexford clash in the remaining National Football League fixture at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday next (throw-in 2.30pm) and it will be interesting to see whether the home manager Glenn Ryan will avail of the opportunity to give other members of the squad a run in the warm up to the real thing – the Division 3 Final at Croke Park on Saturday April 28th.
In fact, the counties could end up meeting for a third time this season if Longford can manage to beat Laois in the opening round of the Leinster SF Championship on May 20th as the eventual winners of this eagerly awaited Pearse Park showdown will advance to meet Wexford in the quarter-final at Croke Park on June 3rd along with the Dublin v Westmeath or Louth game.
Despite the attraction of another National League final appearance at GAA headquarters at the end of April, Glenn Ryan is now firmly focused on the championship clash against Laois and thus he is highly unlikely to risk any players with injury problems for the forthcoming games against Wexford – particularly the meaningless fixture on Sunday next which will lack a competitive edge. Definitely out with a recurring hamstring strain is David Barden, which he sustained in the second half of the previous league game against Tipperary, and hopefully he will be back for the league title decider.
Having said that, Longford will be aiming to extend their unbeaten run to seven games to keep the momentum going but the management team will have to plan without the services of Enda Williams who has made the surprise decision to withdraw from the county squad and is leaving to join Leitrim under the parentage rule as his late father Tommy was a native of Aughavas.
Injury sidelined Williams for almost all of last season at inter-county level but the Clonguish clubman was back in action for Longford in January as a second half substitute in the O’Byrne Cup games against Athlone I.T. and Dublin City University (DCU).
However, the experienced defender did not feature in any of the games in Division 3 of the National League this season and Enda apparently became extremely disillusioned with the ‘out of favour’ factor to such an extent that he will no longer wear the Longford jersey in opting to line-out with Leitrim instead, a move which was confirmed by their joint manager Brian Breen.
Looking ahead to the ‘work-out’ against Wexford on Sunday, it will be a taste of things to come for Longford in the build-up to the Division 3 League Final between the counties and the opposition have a very strong attack with quality players in Ben Brosnan, Ciaran Lyng, Redmond Barry and PJ Banville along with a powerful midfielder in Daithi Waters.