Barden: a bitter end
PAUL Barden won't watch Wexford attempt to lay their Dublin hoodoo to rest on the first day of July.
He won't watch it for the disgust and regret that he himself feels over Longford's absence from the occasion, but still believes Wexford have a chance, provided they make some key modifications to their make-up.
Barden, Longford's long-time hero, stood along with his team-mates on the verge of a first Leinster semi-final appearance in his long and relatively thankless inter-county career on no fewer than two occasions against Wexford.
But for the affliction of a raft of missed goal chances over both ties, Longford would surely be through to a crack at the All-Ireland Champions.
"To be quite honest, I probably won't watch it," a crestfallen Barden admitted yesterday upon being named GPA/Opel Footballer of the Month for May.
"We probably know that we should be there. We're not going to be there and we're just going to have to get over the disappointment of yesterday's game and see how we go from there.
"We had chances on both days. The goal chances were really the killer. We were three points up and had a great goal chance to kill the game and just didn't take it. You have days like that, I suppose. We just have to regroup."
As for how Longford's fortunate conquerors might do against Pat Gilroy's men, Barden was optimistic for their chances.
It will be the fourth time Jason Ryan has taken his team into Leinster combat against the Dubs in his highly progressive reign and he admitted candidly last year after a second Leinster final defeat in three years that he was becoming "sick of losing to Dublin".
"They won't fear Dublin, of course," Barden reckons, "but Dublin are on a high. You saw them against Louth here last week, confidence is really high and their forwards are flying.
"Wexford might need to set up a bit different at the back. But if they can tighten it up, they will cause Dublin lots of trouble."
It's worth nothing that Longford's one-point heart-aching defeat to Wexford on Sunday was their first loss in League and Championship all year.
And also, with the benefit of home draws, Longford have troubled the likes of Down and Kerry in the qualifiers in recent years and, most notably, beat Mayo in 2010.
"To get something useful from the year, you're only judged on the Championship games you win," Barden insisted. "We've put in a lot of hard work and I think we have to put a huge effort in for the qualifiers.
"We were unbeaten up until Sunday and if you look at Sunday's game, it's probably one we should have won. It's hard to take... but I'm sure they'll put the heads down and come back training.
"We have to regroup," Barden added. "We've put in a big effort this year not to have a go at the qualifiers. We just have to hopefully get a home draw and (get) up and running."