There were few more despondent looking figures than Longford captain Paul Barden at the end of last Saturday’s All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifier defeat to Tyrone at Pearse Park.
The Clonguish forward, who just two weeks earlier played a key role in seeing off Cavan in the previous round, cut a dejected figure as he trudged off the pitch moments after referee Pat McEnaney brought the game to a close.
Hands on hips and staring forlornly at the ground, Barden pointed to Mark Donnelly’s early second half goal as the catalyst for his side’s defeat.
“It’s very hard to take,” he sighed, wiping a film of sweat from his forehead. “We were in a good position at half-time and they (Tyrone) got in for a goal early in the second half and that was all that was between us really. It’s very disappointing when you come that close and you don’t finish the job.”
Four points from the impressive Sean McCormack as well as scores from Brian Kavanagh, Noel Farrell, Donal McElligott and Barden himself, ensured Longford went in at the break 0-8 to 0-7 ahead.
It was a lead that ultimately proved short-lived as Mickey Harte’s men turned the screw on Longford courtesy of a stunning 1-3 scoring blitz within the space of five second half minutes.
“We started great in the opening 15 or 20 minutes of the game and we needed to do that at the start of the second half, but it didn’t happen for us. They got the early scores on the changeover which gave them a comfortable lead and put them in pole position for the rest of the game,” added Barden.
Despite falling short and facing the prospect of turning his attention to the county senior club championship, Barden said there were plenty of positives to take from this season’s campaign.
“There is no doubt in the fact that it was a good performance for the majority of the game. We now need to push on again next year as we are in Division Three where there will be a better standard of football. We need to push on from there and bring through some of the minors and U-21s,” he said.