IT’S hard to say whether Longford or Limerick is the team with the lower confidence level coming into this Saturday 29’s qualifier at Pearse Park (throw in 7pm) but we can say for certain that neither team is in a particularly good place mentally.
Longford may have home advantage on their side but they have had a disastrous year, losing all ten of their competitive games against intercounty opposition in 2013 and losing out in the Leinster Championship to Wicklow, 1-15 to 0-16.
Maurice Horan’s Limerick did enjoy a good league campaign, picking up the NFL division 4 title, but they face a long road trip without their leading forward, while they were well and truly demolished by Cork in the Munster championship. Suffice it to say that neither of these counties would have been feared by any opponent, yet they’ll both fancy their chances of progression after this draw. With plenty of easy targets on offer in round 2 of the qualifiers, the prospect of a championship run is still not off the table.
Having won the corresponding fixture between the two counties last year at a time when Longford were playing much better football, Limerick are entitled to feel like they have the winning of this tie and it’s a little surprising that Longford have made the narrow favourites for this weekend’s tie with the bookmakers.
At the time of going to press, the pricing saw the home side at 10/11 and offering Limerick at 11/10.
If Limerick are to win this fixture, then it’s critical that they get out to a fast start and take advantage of the lack of confidence in the Longford camp.
In front of what’s always a passionate home crowd in Longford town, any little bit of momentum will be hard to resist.
With Ian Ryan still unavailable for the men in green, Limerick will look to Ger Collins and Derry O’Connor for some scores. Longford, once more under the guidance of Glen Ryan, will be looking to Sean Mc Cormack and Paul Barden to raise the green and white flags.
Limerick’s half forward John Riordan has had to take on a lot more responsibility in the absence of Ian Ryan also and he’ll be one of the main outlets outside of the two man full forward line of Collins and Buckley. Riordan showed well in last week’s championship clash between Ballysteen and Father Caseys, so with a bit more form and confidence on his side, Horan’s men will be looking to get things moving early after a slow 70 minutes against Cork.
The game finished 1-21 to 0-15 last season after extra time and those making their way to Longford this weekend will be treated to yet another close affair.
Speaking to PostSport this week, Limerick manager Maurice Horan said his side were looking forward to getting over the defeat to Cork.
“We have used poor performances in the past to spur us on in the championship. Hopefully this year will be the same. Going to Longford looking for the win is going to be a tall order. We won there last year without John Galvin, Tom Lee, Stephen Lavin, Mark O’Riordan and Ger Collins. This year we are short Ian Ryan and Seamus O’Carroll. One win in the qualifiers can create momentum. We need to focus on the full 70 this weekend and after that, things will look after themselves.”
LIMERICK SIDE: Brian Scanlan, Andrew Lane, Johnny McCarthy, Mark O’Riordan, Stephen Lavin, Padraig Browne, Pa Ranahan, Bobby O’Brien, John Galvin, John Riordan, Thomas Lee, Iain Corbett, Ger Collins, Seanie Buckley (Capt), Eoghan O’Connor
LONGFORD (Possible) – D Sheridan; D Brady, B Gilleran, D Reilly; C P Smyth, M Quinn, S Mulligan; J Keegan, M Brady, B McElvaney, P Barden, P McCormack; R Smyth, F McGee, S McCormack.
(Odds provided are courtesy of PaddyPower)