If Longford are totally focused, they could surprise Donegal
There's a quality in football teams that outmanoeuvres all others, and causes unexplained wins……every year.
When a team has this quality, their chances of succeeding are improved ten fold. Indeed, it's fair to say that once seized by that quality, they're afraid of nobody.
Self belief is the most valuable ingredient in a team’s armour. Without it, most teams are partially behind before the game even starts.
Longford came to Drogheda convinced that they could eek out a result, whereas, Louth looked ever so slightly tentative.
If Longford believe they can take Donegal, there's no reason in the wide world why they shouldn't go for broke, because that's what it takes.
Look back over the years, and here and there along the way, are teams who absolutely believed, and were never beaten until the final whistle had sounded.
Look at the Meath team of the early 90’s; how many times did they look like they were on the rack, and ready to be roasted, yet came back and ignored the clock until suddenly they led the opposition. Usually when the game was almost over.
Donegal will be hurting in Ballybofey, and aren't easy to beat there, so they'll be focused on turning the tables on Longford.
Donegal will not take Longford for granted. They'll think of Monaghan last year.
The one thing Longford midfield and defenders need to do is focus, focus, focus. If Longford get a point, stay focused, don't celebrate. If they get a goal don't celebrate. If Donegal get a point, stay focused. If Donegal get a goal - and they will constantly look for one - stay focused.
If the ref gives a bad decision, stay focused.
Don't fall into the awful danger of arguing with the officials, or referee.
When you're arguing or protesting, your mind has strayed.
Has anyone ever seen a ref change his decision? No, I thought not.
Therefore it's a negative energy, arguing.
Okay, it's part of the psychology of the game to let your feelings be known and there's a way of doing that. But don't fall into the trap of arguing because when you're preoccupied, you're not focused.
Playing an Ulster team brings a whole new level of verbals, and everyone on the Longford team should be very aware of attempts to goad them into a reaction.
Paul Galvin made the point in the Sunday Times that he found his own vision on the field was directly related to his mental state.
“When I was in the zone and composed I saw most things clearly. If, and when, the red mist descended, my vision and awareness evaporated.”
Donegal are an Ulster team. As such they've been forced some years back to mix the verbals with the best - or worst perhaps - in the country.
Consequently this is now a part of the Donegal psyche, and part of their game playing armour.
Longford would be foolish to think that they're ready for the verbal onslaught that is to come. They're not.
Longford players are likely to be hearing stuff they've never had to listen to before. If that works as a tactic, several Longford players will be distracted and preoccupied. In Paul Galvin’s words, their awareness will have evaporated.
When that occurs, anything can happen - look at what happened against Laois.
Longford need to be attuned to this in advance, and remember for the entire duration of the game they'll be busy watching everything happening around them. For example, corner backs and wing backs tearing up the field at full pace in order to take a pass unmarked twenty yards from goal.
Donegal will not take Longford for granted. For that reason, they’ll be anxious, and focused.
If Longford are totally focused, they could surprise Donegal.