By Deniese O’Flaherty
It was the draw that Longford manager Jack Sheedy didn’t want; Longford against Derry in the All-Ireland qualifiers. He knows only too well that the beaten National League Division 1 finalists in Celtic Park will provide stiff opposition for Longford.
Speaking to the Leader Sheedy said: “We know how good Derry are. They reached the Division 1 League final and got a lot out of that significant progress. They came very close to beating Donegal in the Ulster Championship and are clearly a strong side. I know there is a lot of disappointment up there because they fancied their chances of beating Donegal. Obviously our task going up there is going to be difficult but we will give it our best shot.”
The disappointment of losing to Wexford in the Leinster Championship quarter-final is still evident. The team met on the Monday after the game and spoke of trying to eradicate the mistakes that cost them a crack at Dublin in the Leinster semi-final.
“We laid out some plans and we will work real hard on them in our efforts to cut out the mistakes that we made in the games against Offaly and Wexford,” said Sheedy. “You can’t always blame the defence because we have to look at the supply of the ball that the Wexford forwards got. We will have to work harder further outfield to reduce the workload on our defenders.”
Sheedy knows all about Derry and the threat they pose but for him the main focus is very much on his side and getting their game right.
“We have to focus on our own game. We know Derry are a very good outfit with quality players throughout their team. We have to make sure that we correct our mistakes from previous games and hopefully that will be good enough to deal with what’s thrown at us.”
Longford are very much the underdogs going into the game at Celtic Park but the Longford manager is quietly confident his side can upset the odds. “I know everyone will expect Derry to win but they won’t take us for granted. It’s about what we can deliver on the day. That will be the key to giving ourselves a chance and I have every confidence in the Longford players to do themselves justice. They just need to have that little bit of belief and who knows what might happen.”