Padraic Davis: 'Lack of belief is not as evident as it once was'
By Cian O'Connell
With the spring ambition realised by retaining Allianz Football League Division Three status, Longford manager Padraic Davis is looking forward to the summer now.
Considering the midlanders' were without a healthy Mullinalaghta St Columba's contingent at the outset of the campaign it was satisfying to remain in a highly competitive Division Three.
Davis acknowledges how important it is for Longford to continue competing at that level in 2020. "Hugely," Davis admits. "It would have been a savage blow. We've a squad there now that's good enough to be playing in Division Three at least.
"It would have been a very unfortunate situation to drop to Division Four, I suppose it's been well documented and we've said in the past, the National League is a hugely important competition and in the past a lot of us maybe lost sight of that.
"It gives us an idea of where we're going from year to year which is very, very important that we retained our place in the division."
Mullinalaghta's exploits can boost the inter-county team also according to Davis. "Sure we're waiting since 1968 to win a Leinster title," Davis says. "Obviously that was the last time Longford won it. For these lads to come along, it's an extraordinary story.
"They basically have achieved the impossible with a population of 440 odd people. It doesn't add up at all. It's a great story and I hope we can build on it for years to come."
How Mullinalaghta fared also proves to people that Longford teams can compete. "Yeah in the past certainly, back when I started to play for Longford and the belief wasn't there," Davis states.
"Then the minors came in 2002 and 2010, won Leinster titles, Leinster finalists at Under 21 level in 2011 and 2013. I think lack of belief is not as evident as it once was. Certainly with a core group coming there now, they do believe in themselves, the Mullinalaghta story has certainly helped them."
That seven Mullinalaghta players are involved in Longford's Championship plans encourages Davis. "They've come right back in now and obviously the pace of inter-county football and club football is different, but they've come back in and were really up the speed of it within three or four sessions,' Davis, preparing for Sunday's Leinster Championship encounter against Kildare, remarks.
"Obviously they're very good footballers but they're great guys too. They're a brilliant bunch of men, we got a great response out of them.
"It could have been very messy. I suppose in the past when a club got a big run like that, they may have decided to stay away from the inter-county scene for one season. They haven't decided to do that and of the eight of them called in, seven of them are in and one gone to America so we have to be very happy with their response."