herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

faithful to edge rivals

'We didn't do ourselves justice in Croker': Sheedy

IN hindsight, Jack Sheedy isn't sure whether qualifying for the Division 4 League final was a "bonus or a nuisance".

It's not hard to see why.

Yet it's an indicator of the inherent strangeness of the League that you couldn't be sure which of Longford or Offaly are in better stead coming into this game as a result of that bout.

Offaly won easy; 4-16 to 1-12, and those who thought their feat merely a battle won within a phoney war are straight-up wrong, according to Longford boss, Jack Sheedy.

"I would say there were different things at stake," he clarified in conversation with the Herald this week.

"Offaly needed to probably regain a little bit of ground, I suppose, because we had beaten them twice last year and once this year already.

consequences

"So for them to get one back was probably an important aspect of the whole thing for them.

"But at the end of the day, it was an important game but the consequences were less than they will be this weekend."

"I think anyone who knows me knows that I don't do casual when it comes to football.

"Every game is an important game to me.

"The seven-a-side in training is important. And I don't like to … I don't take them casually.

"Because I think as a player or a coach, if you don't take them seriously, then you allow bad habits to set in. And that's something nobody can afford."

"There were guys who were a bit sore," he admits of the aftermath.

"Guys who were disappointed. A lot of different feelings out on the pitch after the game.

"And when you're standing back looking at the opposition going up and lifting a trophy you had your eyes set on, that hurts.

"Or it should hurt," stated the former Dublin footballer.

"We didn't perform. We didn't do ourselves justice."

The subplot to tonight's rematch is that the winner gets the greatest booby prize in football just now; a date with the Dubs in Croke Park on May 31.

opportunity

"To be perfectly honest, it's not something we've spoken about," Sheedy insists.

"We haven't made any mention of it. I'm sure every player wants to play in Croke Park on the biggest days of the year.

"We had that opportunity already and we didn't perform well.

"If we manage to beat Offaly the next day, that will give them another opportunity.

"But unless the performance is a lot better than the last time, we won't get a chance to get back.

"If guys do the business on Saturday, we'll get that chance."

They'll have earned it to.

It doesn't take much to refloat Offaly natives' optimism and that goal barrage against Longford in Croke Park did the trick nicely.

In Tullamore, they'll be tougher again to beat and for Longford, probably too tough to get back into Croke Park.

ODDS: Offaly 1/2, Draw 15/2, Longford 9/4

VERDICT: Offaly

LEINSTER SFC: OFFALY v LONGFORD, tullamore, tonight, 7.0

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