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25/07/2021

Can Longford U-17s spring surprise away to Kildare?

Electric Ireland Leinster Minor (U-17) Football Championship Round 1

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Rathcline clubman Gareth Johnston, the manager of the Longford minor (U-17) footballers Photo: Declan Gilmore

Gareth Johnston, the manager of the Longford U-17 footballers, knows very little about his side’s opposition in the first round of the Leinster Minor Championship.

 

Longford are away to Kildare on Saturday and for Johnston and the players the focus is all on them and getting their performance right at St Conleth's Park in Newbridge, throw-in 12 noon.

 Johnston said: “There is nothing you can do about the way the opposition play. You can alter it a bit in how they are going to play by maybe knowing about some of their players or getting your match-ups right. 

With regards to Kildare style of play; let them off and do what they are doing and we will play the way we play. 

“If we are good enough to beat them with the way we play, that’s what we are looking at.”

 Kildare will no doubt be favourites but Longford have a good record at recording memorable wins at underage level. Johnston believes if his side play to their strengths they can come away with a win.

 “If we get our game right we will be difficult to beat, no matter who we are playing. It will come down to a few things on the day. Luck will play a bit of a factor in it. 

“It’ll be whether the boys actually believe it themselves and whether they believe they can go to Kildare and win. I think they can because they are a good bunch of lads. They are a good team.”

 The philosophy that Johnston and his management team have instilled in the players is about belief and working hard if they want to achieve things.

 “You can do whatever you want in life, if you put your mind to it. That’s the type of message we have been giving them,” stated Gareth. 

 This is the second time that Johnston has managed the Longford minors. The Rathcline clubman was involved back in 2014 and he is delighted to be back.

 “I really do enjoy it. I wouldn’t be doing it, if I didn’t. I find it very rewarding; especially when you are working with the promising younger players.

  “To be fair to the lads they’ve had a lot of information coming to them in a short space of time, in the last six weeks and they’ve taken it all in. Trying to do what we want them to do and they have responded well. It’s a real breath of fresh air for us all.”

 Longford’s preparations have been going well for Saturday’s game. They’ve had good challenge games against Roscommon, Leitrim and Mayo. In every game different players stood out for Johnston and he admitted it will be tough trying to pick a starting 15.

 “With the strength in depth that we have it’s going to be very difficult to pick a team. Trying to get a balance of players who can compliment each other.

“If we can get that right, that’s the main thing. We are getting it hard to nail down a starting 15. Fellas have really stood up.”

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