Michael Quinn and Killoe Emmett Óg daring to dream big

Leinster club championship success now the target for newly-crowned Longford kingpins

Not many football competitions can claim 23 different winners in its 45 years of existence. Or create such a level playing field that every team that enters truly believes they can win.

The AIB Leinster club football championship gets underway this Sunday with three preliminary round pairings. One of them features newly crowned Longford champions Killoe Emmet Óg, who have now won three of the last four county titles. With success they are thinking bigger again.

Longford are one of only four counties yet to produce the Leinster club football champions (the others being Louth, Wexford and Kilkenny). While it's still early days yet, standout club and county defender Michael Quinn sees no reason why they can't go all the way.

“There is that romance of this competition that on any given day, there is more of a chance than county level, and we definitely feel that. Hopefully we can get a run, win a couple of games, and push for a Leinster title,” says Quinn.

“And you are playing teams that you haven’t played before. Someone was telling me that we will have played Offaly seven times in three years, league and championship. Playing the same team, year in year out, it does create a bit of rivalry, but at the same time it would be nice to play other teams too.

“With the club, after winning the county title the first and second time, you always look a bit further. When we lost in 2013, it was a wake-up call. The hardest thing is getting out of your own county. We learned from that in 2013. Last year we got back against and probably the experience is coming to the fore again. We’re probably one of the biggest parishes in Longford but there is no proper town, two pubs, a church and a shop and that’s it. It’s fairly rural.”

First up on Sunday are Wexford champions St James’, and whoever wins that face the Meath champions. Quinn knows there are certainly no guarantees, but it’s a lot more appetising that then intercounty structure.

Full backing

Indeed Quinn has given his full backing to the GPA proposal to introduce a Champions League-type series to the championship, in order to give weaker counties something to play for in the summer months. Having spent four years playing professional in the AFL, Quinn stresses the importance of incentivising all intercounty players.

“A holistic change is needed, and that’s the most difficult thing, not just the fixtures change. It has to be an overall package, from the top down, and then other things will change along the way, if you want to progress and keep Gaelic football improving.”

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