Unenviable task facing Longford as Dublin prepare to hit the ground running

Longford captain Dermot Brady says players looking forward to appearing at Croke Park

Cian O’Sullivan: valuable for his dynamism and mobility around midfield for Dublin. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Cian O’Sullivan: valuable for his dynamism and mobility around midfield for Dublin. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

For much of the build-up to this Leinster senior football quarter-final the mood has been “Charge of the Light Brigade” – with added unhappiness over Crimea as the venue. Even topping the table and then losing the Division Four final could count as half a league.

Despite this the Longford players have been upbeat in their public comments, with captain Dermot Brady talking up the desire of players to appear at Croke Park and goalkeeper Paddy Collum pointing out that his under-21s had beaten Dublin two years ago.

It’s true the county has lost the last five championship meetings with Dublin – only two of which have been in Croke Park – by an average of 10 points but it’s best not to dwell on the past.

Jack Sheedy’s team staged a notable coup by going to Tullamore as underdogs and overhauling a seven-point deficit to beat Offaly, having missed a penalty along the way – even if it required the fingertip intervention of Collum to keep out an equaliser in the last moments.

Led by Michael Quinn’s industry, ball-winning and distribution, Longford showed composure and finishing to salvage the match. That, however, is as far as the good vibes stretch, as odds of 1/200 on Dublin suggest. Dublin will be looking to general performance indicators rather than the outcome.

The defence is short two starters with Rory O’Carroll and James McCarthy ruled out, giving a chance to David Byrne to show what he can do.

Panel players

It remains to be seen which of the panel actually start the match but there are a number of places up for grabs, so the pace is unlikely to slacken.

Dean Rock will be anxious to underline his credentials as a core player after a league in which his marksmanship was an important contributory factor to winning the title.

It will also be interesting to see if John Small starts at centre back. He was reasonably successful as a deep defensive cover when played. In latter matches the appearance of Cian O’Sullivan in the position seemed to hint at another direction, but one Jim Gavin has to measure against the value of O’Sullivan’s dynamism at centrefield.

Last meeting: 2006 Leinster quarter-final, Pearse Park, Dublin 1-12, Longford 0-13.
Odds: Dublin 1/200, Longford 25/1 and 50/1 the draw.
Injuries: Dublin are missing James McCarthy, who injured his toe in a challenge match with Clare. There is also a question mark over Rory O’Carroll, who damaged his hamstring in the league final. Longford’s Shane Doyle has a calf muscle injury.
Suspension: None. Just the ticket: Hogan Stand €25 and Hill 16 €15 (No concessions). Davin and Cusack Stands €25 (concessions available for students, senior citizens and families).
Verdict: Dublin.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; Jonny Cooper, David Byrne, Philip McMahon; Darren Daly, John Small, Jack McCaffrey; Brian Fenton, Denis Bastick; Paul Flynn, Ciaran Kilkenny, Diarmuid Connolly; Dean Rock, Kevin McManamon, Bernard Brogan.
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Dermot Brady (capt.), Barry O’Farrell, Cian Farrelly; Colm P.Smyth, Barry Gilleran, Diarmuid Masterson; Kevin Diffley, Michael Quinn; Rory Connor, Ronan McEntire, Peter Foy; Barry McKeon, Brian Kavanagh, Ross McNerney.
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).

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