In a most interesting start to the new season, the Longford senior footballers will travel to Newbridge to take on last year's beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists Kildare in the first round of the 2011 O'Byrne Cup on Sunday next, January 9th, throw-in 2pm.
Much of the focus will be on the current Longford manager Glenn Ryan, the former Kildare star, in this tough fixture for the Division 4 side in the build-up to the National League campaign which commences on Sunday February 6th at home to Connacht champions Roscommon.
While Kildare will probably field an experimental team, Longford will also be understrength as Brian Kavanagh is unavailable due to his club commitment with Leinster finalists Kilmacud Crokes while long term casualty Francis McGee is still out injured.
Reports suggest that Paul Barden is injured and will also be missing on Sunday and while Diarmuid Masterson is listed in the current squad, the Dromard clubman departed to the United States a while back but he is expected to return home soon and if so will feature for Longford in the National League.
Some good news for Glenn Ryan and his fellow selectors Liam Keenan and Padraic Davis is that David Barden is back in the squad and is expected to be in action against Kildare along with regulars Enda Williams, Dermot Brady, Paddy Dowd, Barry Gilleran, Noel Farrell, Paul Kelly, Sean McCormack, Bernard McElvaney, Kevin Mulligan, Shane Mulligan, Declan Reilly and Damien Sheridan.
Thus Longford are in a position to field a strong enough side in Newbridge but a number of newcomers could also get their chance including Niall Mulligan (Longford Slashers), John O'Shea (Carrickedmond) and Kieran Mulvihill (Cashel).
Should Longford manage to spring a surprise and beat Kildare then the reward is a home game against Offaly or D.C.U. in the O'Byrne Cup quarter-final the following Sunday, January 16th, while a defeat at St. Conleth's Park will move the county into the O'Byrne Shield with a first round fixture at home to the losers of the Offaly v D.C.U. clash.
The current Longford senior football squad is as follows:
David Barden (Clonguish), Paul Barden (Clonguish), Dermot Brady (Longford Slashers), Martin Brady (Sean Connolly's), Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon), Paddy Dowd (Clonguish), Gerard Farrell (Ardagh St. Patrick's), Noel Farrell (Colmcille), Thomas Gallagher (Granard), Barry Gilleran (Longford Slashers), Brian Kavanagh (Kilmacud Crokes), John Keegan (Mullinalaghta St. Columba's), Paul Kelly (Longford Slashers), Shane Mahon (Abbeylara), Diarmuid Masterson (Dromard), JJ Matthews (Mullinalaghta), Joe McCormack (Killoe Young Emmets), Sean McCormack (Killoe Young Emmets), Donal McElligott (Mullinalaghta St. Columba's), Bernard McElvaney (Ballymore), Francis McGee (Dromard), Ronan McGoldrick (Killoe Young Emmets), James McKenna (Sean Connolly's), Kevin Mulligan (Mullinalaghta St. Columba's), Niall Mulligan (Longford Slashers), Shane Mulligan (Mullinalaghta St. Columba's), Kieran Mulvihill (Cashel), James Noonan (Fr. Manning Gaels), John O'Shea (Carrickedmond), Declan Reilly (Colmcille), Damien Sheridan (Dromard), Colm P Smyth (Abbeylara), Michael Victory (Mostrim), Enda Williams (Clonguish).