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Tailteann Cup Gives Longford A Reason To Believe

Tailteann Cup Gives Longford A Reason To Believe
By PJ Browne
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One of the common problems cited by players at last week's Tailteann Cup launch was the continuous turnover of players within their squad. Every year, players leave, meaning the panel regularly goes back to square one, especially with tactics, and to an extent with strength and conditioning. It's hard to build.

Mickey Quinn hopes that the new second tier football championship will help the Longford footballers in that regard; that they'll be able to plan three years into the future rather than just for the following one.

In the 2015 Leinster Championship, Dublin defeated Longford by 27 points, and three years later by 19 points. Quinn thinks games like those, and the notion there was no real hope in sight, led to players falling away.

"Some of those games against Dublin, I don't know what our track record is the following year," says Quinn.

"But the drop-off rate the following year, guys thinking 'Hang on a minute, is it worth hanging around for that?' Everything that builds up to those Dublin games, there's loads of people interested in it. There's probably a bit more publicity than other games. It's building up to it and it's set up nicely.

"But it's set up for the fall inevitably that happens, and that's the knock-on effect for the next six weeks after, the next year after that guys drift away, like 'Is it worth hanging on? Being on a county squad for that? Is that what you're training for?'

"When you have a tight panel, and the qualifiers are coming thick and fast, week-to-week, we've put in huge efforts for maybe that one-off big upset, and you don't have the personnel and quality to go again, that strong bench to go the following week.


"That's probably where that development in the off-season needs to improve, to try and keep lads interested, so going from year-to-year you're not losing five, six guys new to the squad.


"Of all the players that are playing this year, we've lost a huge number since last year. You talk about transition from year-to-year, there is a lot of young guys on the squad this year. You need to have a good spread, and we're probably lacking that at the moment. Hopefully this year can set us up for next year, getting a few more guys back into the squad."

Mickey Quinn of Longford poses for a portrait during the Tailteann Cup launch at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

This weekend, Longford face Fermanagh in the first round of the Tailteann Cup. For this year, it is a knockout competition, but from next year on, it is expected to featured group stages, meaning teams will be guaranteed games.

"We're at a stage now where I think we've the third most players played in the National League this year," says Quinn.


"I think it was Cork and Dublin were ahead of us. So we've a lot of young lads coming through. And the only way to develop and continue to improve is by playing games.

"This year is a bit of a different format. It's knockout. But going forward next year with that round robin, playing games is something where you can develop. And games that you can hang your hat on it that you're building. You've one game next week, the following week, and you keep going. And we probably didn't get that as much in the league.

"So we'll be hoping to try and get that going and develop lads. It's a competition that, however number of years that I'm going to be left playing, I'd love to be able to walk up the steps of Croke Park and lift a competition [trophy] that's meaningful for me and meaningful for Longford; that you can say the following year you can go and develop. That it's not going from a year-to-year structure. And it's not like what counties like ourselves have been like in the past. It's just fallen from year to year to year.


"Whereas now you can start talking about a two, three-year plan: 'OK, let's go after the Tailteann Cup, let's go after the Division 3, if we get promoted, we can push on the following year in Division 2 or the Sam Maguire qualifiers or whatever'. And maybe that can help.

"Obviously there's little tweaks that will come out that need to be made to help that. But any improvement to some of the results that have happened to probably myself and Longford and other teams in the past, to promote development is what I'd love to see, and I'm hoping to see in the next few years."

See Also: GAA President Explains Why Tailteann Cup Won't Be All-Ireland Curtain Raiser

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