Longford Leader columnist Mattie Fox: A powerful Longford performance that rekindled memories of past GAA glories

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Mattie Fox

Longford Leader columnist, Mattie Fox

I met Seamus Flynn walking purposely towards O’Connor Park as I was walking towards my own car, on Sunday last. It was around 1.05 in the afternoon. The meeting triggered memories and dreams in my mind.

I began to muse as I walked away and turned around to watch him walking briskly, tall and straight, with some company from Rathcline.

I watched for a couple of minutes, as he strode away across the bridge. Dressed in dapper style.

I began to relive old times, old memories, when Seamus Flynn was probably the best, and most magnificent No 4 in Gaelic football.

That was in the years 1965 - ‘68 when Longford took the football world by storm.

At that time he looked like a film star, tall, erect, and handsome. With a mischievous smile that made him look like he was about to crack a joke.

On the field he was no joke.

Ruthless, tough, stylish and efficient, I cannot remember anyone scoring on Seamus Flynn. I’m sure a few did, but I genuinely don’t recall.

In 1964 Longford played probably eight league games, plus a few others, and lost every one. Leitrim in the league was the ultimate low.

Right after that, the players took the matter in hand.

Demands were made, and to make a long story short next year, 1965 Longford reached their first ever Leinster Final, and became serious league contenders, 1966 saw the finish of the National League, where Longford beat Galway, then New York in November of ‘66.

What a turn around that really was.

They virtually blew teams off the park. They really became that good.

The same team as 1964, now League Champions in 1966.

Maybe that wouldn’t happen just as easily now, but it shows what can be done. Nobody tell me it can’t.

With dreams rumbling in my head I took my seat in O’Connor Park.

From the throw in , it was obvious that Longford were going to overpower Offaly. After an Offaly cross went harmlessly wide, Longford proceeded to attack with a purpose I haven’t seen in some time from a Longford side. They were quickly leading by four points to nil, when a careless mistake in the Longford defence gifted Offaly a goal against the run of play.

Longford however, weren’t for turning and continued to pour pressure on Offaly all over the field, with the resultant scoreline at halftime reading Longford 0-14 Offaly 1-1. But for carelessness in the defence it’s possible Offaly wouldn’t have scored at all in first half, such was Longford’s focused tenacity in the tackle and general swiftness of the attack every time Longford surged forward.

The second half started with Longford still hungry for more scores, and after two minutes Sean McCormack scored a real masterclass goal after a very good Longford move.

Continually Robbie Smith was outstanding. He focused on playing, and left the ref to his own devices. It worked, as it always does, because he got frees which he deserved, rather than (unintentionally) being penalised by the referee for complaining all the time.

Even referees are human...mostly anyway!

This was the kind of display by a Longford team that would remind one of times long ago, when Longford stormed to success unannounced.

When the county rose as one to follow the team.

I’m not sure that would ever happen now, given the disparity between the top and bottom. But it certainly gave many of us hope for the future.

One thing that must be addressed is the fact that we gifted Offaly at least one goal early on, and at least three points at the end of the game.

The Longford defence were to blame for the goal. Then Paddy Columb, who can hit a 45 metre kick accurately managed somehow to find Offaly players between two Longford players three times towards the end of the game. That carelessness needs to be rectified.

You might be interested in reading more from Mattie Fox:

Dolores O'Riordan - the Limerick girl whose talent not everyone understood

We need to be more respectful to grieving families