Denis Connerton, Longford manager
As Longford make their final preparations for the trip to Ballybofey on Saturday to take on Donegal in Round 2A of the All-Ireland Qualifiers, manager Denis Connerton knows it is going to be a very tough task for his side as they face the 2012 All-Ireland champions.
Connerton said: “They are backboned by top class footballers and have brought in young footballers of a high quality. It’s a daunting task for us but it’s the draw we have been handed. It’s something that we have to take on and give it our best shot. It wasn’t a draw we were hoping for as Donegal are a top six team.”
Connerton (pictured) is disappointed that Longford didn’t get a home tie. It would be great for the Longford supporters to see household names like Michael Murphy, Ryan McHugh, Karl Lacey and Paddy McBrearty and all the great Donegal footballers play in Longford. It would also bring a bit of business to the town.”
Longford booked their place in Round 2 of the Qualifiers for the ninth year in a row when they defeated Louth in the first round and it is a tremendous record.
“The win in Louth was great for the players and has brought a big buzz around the camp. The qualifiers for Longford is where it is happening and our lads just seem to embrace it. We seem to be much more at ease playing in the qualifiers, more than when we are competing in the Leinster Championship,” commented Connerton.
Every year the conversation about the restructuring of the championship crops up and Denis believes something has to be done because there is an imbalance in the provincial system.
“You look at Louth who played three games in the championship before the last of the counties (Roscommon) were in action. I don’t feel that’s correct and the format needs to be changed. I believe there has to be something different and it has to be driven by the players. It’s not correct for anyone other than the players to decide what competitions they are playing in as they are the important ones in this debate. The Tommy Murphy Cup never took off because it wasn’t something the players wanted to participate in.”
This is not the first time Connerton has faced Donegal in the All-Ireland Qualifiers in Ballybofey as back in 2003 the team he also managed were beaten by six points. The Longford boss knows what is required of his current side if they are to create one of the biggest upsets in the qualifiers and they have done it before.
“One approach we could take is for us to go out and enjoy it. We know we have to play as well as we possibly can.
“Donegal will be disappointed with their performance against Tyrone in the Ulster semi-final and the fact that they beat them with such ease in the league early in the year.
“They will be firing on all cylinders against us to make the most of their second chance and they are at home. Hopefully we will have great support in Ballybofey and give them something to cheer about.”