Pat Flanagan on guard for Long' grass foes
PAT FLANAGAN will have "a grand sleep" on Saturday night if Offaly replicate the free-scoring swagger of their recent Division Four final in their Leinster SFC rematch with Longford.
But, he quickly adds, "I don't think it's going to happen!"
Offaly enter the summer cauldron on a high after amassing 4-16 - all bar three points from play - in that Croke Park league final. Yet, that very result is exactly why Flanagan expects a different type of game in Tullamore this Saturday (7.0).
"It's championship football. We have won a game by 13 points. How do we approach it? Or how do we get the fellas back down to ground? Are we capable of performing to the same level?" he wondered aloud.
"We have plenty of football ability within us and it's just to make sure that, psychologically, we are well prepared to perform to whatever level is needed to get over the line."
Another reason for Offaly to be on guard against complacency is their prior record against Longford. They lost to them in last year's league, last year's corresponding Leinster opener at Pearse Park, and also this year's regulation league encounter, when long periods of Faithful dominance were undermined by three red cards as they finished with 12 men.
"It's our third meeting in seven weeks, so it's going to be a game of cat and mouse," Flanagan predicts. "The pressure of championship football will be thrown in on top of that, and Offaly hasn't had a lot of success in the championship over the last number of years. So there's a lot of things to add into the mix compared to the league final."
Flanagan has previously identified promotion as the most important hurdle for Offaly to surmount this season. But he clarifies: "I did say also that beating Longford in the championship was necessary. We've achieved our first goal and we'll go about our second … "
Do that and the greatest goal of all, the Dubs in Croker, awaits.
leinster sfc 1st rnd: offaly v longford