Longford begin their 2017 campaign this weekend as they make the trip to Newbridge on Saturday to face Kildare in the O’Byrne Cup.
After a good 2016 championship there is plenty of optimism in Longford that more improvement can be made this year.
Shannonside’s head of sport John Lynch spoke to Longford manager Denis Connerton who is delighted to be back in action.
“It’s great to get back playing games again, we have our pre-season training underway and im sure the lads are tired of training and would love to get the competitive games under their belt”
Ahead of Saturday’s game it has been confirmed that brother’s Sean and Padraig McCormack are back with the panel for the 2017 season.
The Killoe men had opted out of the squad for a few years but have decided to come back to the delight of the management who will be looking at a number of players ahead of the national league where Longford will hope to gain promotion to division two.
As the weeks go on players will gradually make their way back into the set up. Mullinlaghta had a long 2016 so players may be eased in as the weeks go on while Mickey Quinn is out till the first few rounds of the league.
“Mullinlaghta had a marvellous season last season and it will take time to get them back into it but hopefully by the first round of the national league we should have everybody back”
The O’Byrne Cup is always regarded as a good build up to the national league and Longford may hope to go one further than they did last year. A shock win over Dublin in the Semi Final seen Longford reach the final where they were beaten by Meath.
Longford have three games in eight days with this Saturday being the first and Denis feels his players will enjoy it.
“Guys love going out playing football and representing their county as best as they can possible be”
One of the big things heading into this year’s football calendar is the new rule changes.
The mark has been introduced this year which is,
‘When a player catches the ball cleanly from a Kick-Out without it touching the ground, on or past the 45m line nearest the KickOut point, he shall be awarded ‘a Mark’ by the Referee. The player awarded a ‘Mark’ shall have the options of (a) Taking a free kick or (b Playing on immediately.’
The other new rule is the unlimited amount of subs used.
Denis gave his thought on the mark.
“We played one challenge game with the mark and I didn’t notice one massive difference”
Throw in for this Saturday’s game at Newbridge is 2pm.