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Behold The Kings Of Late June - An Incredible Run Of Consistency Continues

Behold The Kings Of Late June - An Incredible Run Of Consistency Continues
By Conor Neville Updated
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Author and Sunday Times journalist Michael Foley dubbed Kerry 'the Kings of September'. Well Longford are the kings of late June.

Early round qualifier games tend to hinge on attitude more than anything else.

Teams who begin the year gunning for provincial silverware but who regard an All-Ireland as beyond them often have little stomach for a lengthy qualifier run once their provincial dreams are ended. Cavan in 2014 and 2015 are a good example of this.

Longford, by contrast, enter the every championship season knowing they will enter the qualifiers sooner or later (usually sooner) and therefore they are usually well primed for the qualifiers. Attitudinally, they are in good shape.

Denis Connerton, in a fit of pique admittedly, even said this year that Longford were already preparing for the qualifiers prior to the Offaly match.

It is badly out of fashion now but the qualifier system has been a good development for Longford. When one recalls the dark days on the mid-1990s, when the second-worst team in the country would routinely kick the shite out of them, the last decade hasn’t been half bad.

Following their extra-time victory over Down in Newry this afternoon, Longford have now won eight Round 1 qualifier matches in a row.

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Down haven't won a match since early April last year and, if Eamonn Burns does depart as manager, he has left his successor little room for disimprovement (the 2010 championship feels increasingly like a bizarre hallucination). But Longford were hardly in rude health either following their sizeable loss to Offaly and they had to travel north to play. It is a very good win and one worth celebrating.

Leitrim manager Shane Ward spoke to us ahead of last week's win over Waterford about the satisfaction the players and management would derive from such a victory. Regardless of the indifference of the rest of the country. A championship win is a championship win.

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Obviously, many would regard the record of eight successive Round 1 qualifier wins as a rather dubious honour to hold. That Longford have put themselves in a position to post such a stat implies they must be doing something wrong. It should be remembered that the bigger numbers in the Leinster championship mean Longford often land in the first round of the qualifiers despite having won a match in the province, as Offaly did this year.

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While most counties are afforded the privilege of beginning their campaign in the First Round (or even a provincial semi-final), smaller counties in Leinster are commonly asked to begin their summer assault on the province at a stage called the preliminary round.

This is the sixteenth year of the qualifiers. And it the sixteenth year Longford has landed in the first round of the qualifiers. Every year since 2009 (and on a few occasions before this run) they have progressed to Round 2. Here's the run in all its glory.

2009: Leitrim 0-10  Longford 0-13

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2010 : Longford 1-12  Mayo 0-14

2011 : Cavan 0-11  Longford 2-16

2012 : Longford 0-17  Derry 2-8

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2013 : Longford 2-14 Limerick 0-9

2014 : Derry 2-14 Longford 2-16

2015: Longford 2-15 Carlow 1-8

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2016: Longford 2-24 Down 3-17 (AET)

Read more: Remembering The Strangest Football Championship Of The 21st Century

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