Longford senior hurling manager Ray Gavin is pictured with Wolfe Tones Mostrim and county hurler Seamus Hannon.
Despite losing out in the National League Division 3B Final last year, Longford senior hurling manager Ray Gavin believed that his side could come back better and stronger this year especially after their encouraging performances against Tyrone and Armagh in the 2016 Nicky Rackard Cup.
The start to the 2017 season has not been great for Longford as they suffered heavy defeats in the Kehoe Cup against NUI Maynooth and Louth minus the services of Joe O’Brien and last year’s captain Martin Coyle.
O’Brien (injured at the moment) and Coyle have not yet made a decision about playing with the hurlers this year but the boss Ray Gavin is hoping they will make a return in Longford’s push for promotion. “It would be great if they could give it another year. They are great players to have around for the younger players and the new guys that have come in,” he told the Leader.
Longford have lost Kevin Conneely and Bart Hanley from last year’s panel but have a few new faces and some players returning to the squad. Gavin said: “Breen Elliott is a goalkeeper from Athlone who is just returning from a shoulder injury. Thomas Egan at full-back has also been injured and has played very little club hurling. Paddy Walsh is very good with striking the ball and will get scores.
Conor Keegan and Seamus Hannon have returned while you have Daire Duggan, Stephen Farrell and others in contention for places on the team.”
Longford’s first league game is this Sunday at home to Fermanagh and they will be without Karl and Reuben Murray who are away. Ray Gavin knows it’s vital to get off to winning start in what will be a tight division.
“We really need to win the opening game to build up some momentum for the next fixture away to Leitrim. Then we are at home to Warwickshire and away to Sligo and we would have to win three games, I would imagine, to reach the league final,” said the Longford manager.
After missing out on promotion in the last two years, Gavin is hoping it will be a case of third time lucky this season for Longford but he is honest and realises it is going to be a tough task.
“When you look at it we couldn’t beat Fermanagh last year or Warwickshire the year before in the league finals and we would probably be weaker than them this year.
“It’s going to be a tough division with everyone capable of beating each other and hopefully we can win the Division 3B title and get promoted.”
In order for Longford to be in with a chance of gaining promotion they need everyone that is available to play. It has been difficult for the Longford manager to get players to commit to the county hurling squad this season.
“You need all players available and that applies in every county. I rang somewhere close to 50 players and some told me out straight they were not interested. The rest said they were interested but when we called a meeting some of them never turned up.
“I can’t complain about things off the field. The county board have been brilliant and the players in the squad at the moment are working hard. Hopefully, we can get positive results on the field,” concluded Gavin.