LONGFORD boss Padraic Davis believes his side has learned lessons from last year’s League defeat to Down, when three Donal O’Hare goals saw the Mournemen topple the previously unbeaten Midlanders at Pearse Park.
Davis brings his men to Newry on Saturday night for another crunch Division Three clash, with Longford again coming in on the back of an impressive start, picking up two wins and a draw from their three outings so far.
They conceded just one other goal throughout last year’s League campaign, and Davis knows his side can’t afford to let Down build up a head of steam as they bid to reignite their own promotion charge following defeat in Cork last time out.
“Defensively we were fairly solid [during the League], it was just one of those days,” said Davis, whose men are tucked in behind table-toppers Cork in second place.
“We provided the holes and the opportunities and Down took them. You have to give Donal O’Hare and Down credit, a lot of teams gift goal chances and they aren’t always put away, but Down saw it out that day.
“When you concede three goals, that’s it - the game’s up. Down only scored seven points but they won comfortably with 10 scores in total.
“If you give them opportunities they’ll put you away and they certainly did that to us that day. It’s something we have to learn from.”
Despite their strong start, Davis insists Longford’s top priority remains consolidation in Division Three.
“We’re missing eight of our Championship team from last year, many would’ve felt that put us in a very dangerous position in the first three games, never mind the final four.
“Thank God that has worked out exceptionally well, now you’re there with Cork, Down, Tipperary and Derry, but that can all change in one weekend. I don’t think we’re in the lofty position of talking about promotion just yet; we need to get another couple of points on the board.
“You really don’t know how that League will turn out yet. It could swing anyway.”
If they don’t manage to earn promotion, the very real prospect of tier two Championship football will loom large. And, having initially been receptive to the idea, Davis insists Longford have “no interest in being part of that experiment.”
He said: “I was finishing up my playing days back in the Tommy Murphy Cup era, and already I’m seeing signs of that,” said Davis.
“The GAA has made no commitment on it [a tier two Championship] in terms of how they’re going to go about giving it the place it deserves, if they’re serious about it.
“I would have felt that the only way to truly give this the stage it deserves was to say it is the second most important competition – above the National League, above the U20 and U17 Championships, and this will be a curtain-raiser on All-Ireland final day.
“That would have got everybody to sit up and take notice. They have failed to do that, and they won’t be doing it is my best guess. For me, it’s struggling straight away.
“If it’s something that works out and it’s there in 10 years time, fine, but if it’s something that’s going to fail miserably after two or three years, we have no interest in being part of that experiment for the first couple of years.
“Looking at the whole package, I don’t have the appetite for it that I did three months ago. When it was mooted, I thought ‘yes, there’s an idea here’, but the downright failure of headquarters to this point… to just introduce it with no suggestion as to how they’re going to sell it with people, or the place that it can have.
“That disappoints me. I’m open to anything, I was on the fence but I’m no longer on the fence now.”