Longford is a proud county. When it comes to football, they boast a loyal fan base who endure the bad days and live for the good days. The Longford Ladies have delivered two of those good days to a county often starved of success, bringing two All-Ireland titles back to the Farrell county. Which poses the question, who are the best fifteen players of this era? We asked 1997 All-Ireland winning captain and coach of the 2016 All-Ireland winning team, Dara McGann, 1997 All-Ireland winner and Longford Ladies legend Mary Kiernan and current star forward and 2016 All-Ireland Winner Michelle Farrell.
Michelle Kilkenny clears the danger. (Source: Sportsfile)
Our selectors were all in agreeance that Dromard keeper Michelle Kilkenny should take the number 1 shirt. Her distribution of the ball and saving ability set her apart from the rest.
Honourable Mentions: Karina Mulvihill (Rathcline), Sinead Corrigan (St. Helens).
Leanne Keegan in action for Longford. (Source: Longfordleader.ie)
Full Back Line:
This proved to be the most difficult line to choose on account of so many brilliant players to choose from. Marie Brady of Clonguish was selected at corner back, although she could have appeared anywhere in the defence, at full back was Leanne Keegan of Mostrim, her fearlessness and tenacity making her a standout choice. Completing the full back line was Mairead Moore, “She’s just a nightmare to play against” said Michelle Farrell of the Clonguish defender.
Honourable Mentions: Sinead Farrell (Rathcline), Donna Leavy (Carrickedmond), Lizzie Brady (Killoe), Adriana Melia (Rathcline), Maria Slowey (Clonguish), Laura Doherty (Killoe), Catriona Donlon (Rathcline), Aisling Cosgrove (Longford Slashers).
Emer Heaney on the attack. (Source: rte.ie)
Half Back Line:
Taking the first half back line position was Ballymore’s Emer Heaney, her energy and skill make her a threat wherever she plays but “is at her best at wing back” explained Dara McGann. Anchoring the defence was Sharon Treacy, who picked up several individual accolades due to the fierce elegance in which she played. At number 7 was Rathcline’s Sheila Farrell, who arguably again could have featured anywhere such was her versatility.
Honourable Mentions: Yvonne Barden (Clonguish), Barbara McElvaney (Ballymore), Michelle Ross (Carrickedmond), Lauren Farrell (Rathcline), Clare Farrell (Longford Slashers), Laura McGahern (Dromard), Michelle Noonan (Carrickedmond), Antoinette Brady (Killoe), Michelle Smith (Ballymore).
Jacinta Brady was the first name on the lips of our selectors, the Player of the Match in the 2016 All-Ireland triumph has been simply brilliant when playing in the Blue and Gold. She was partnered by Rathcline’s Alison Smyth, her bravery was unrivalled as she soldiered for Longford through good times and bad. She left behind a fantastic legacy after her untimely passing and inspired everyone that knew her.
Honourable Mentions: Siobhan McGowan (Clonguish), Mairead Reynolds (Dromard), Edel McGann (Clonguish), Ali McGann (Kilashee).
Fiona Blessington weighs up her options. (Source: Sportsfile)
Half Forward Line:
At number 10 was Michelle Hannify, like her brothers David and Colin she represented Longford with pride and skill in equal measure. On the 40 was 3 time All-Star and Player of the Match in the 1997 All-Ireland final, Fiona Blessington. With such an impressive haul of individual awards, she is arguably Longford’s greatest ever player. Joining them was one of our selectors. When you Google Michelle Farrell’s name, most of the top results will be her collecting an award of some sort. The Colmcille forward is lethal no matter what position she plays in the forward line.
Honourable Mentions: Edel Quinn (Killoe), Sarah Reynolds (Dromard), Mary Kiernan (Ballymore), Anne Marie Bratten (Killoe), Claire Greene (Rathcline), Dara McGann (St.Helens), Jennifer Hennessy (Killoe).
Aoife Darcy in possession. (Source: Longford Leader)
Full Forward Line:
There were several candidates to occupy the full forward line and whittling it down to three names was an arduous task. Rathcline’s Paula Kenny was selected at number 13, her accuracy being crucial in her being selected. On the square was Ballymore’s Aisling Reynolds, another versatile player who could have featured in several positions on the field. Completing our team in the corner was Aoife Darcy. The Clonguish forward held off stiff competition to take her place, some excellent performances in recent years warranted her the number 15 jersey.
Honourable Mentions: Mary Burke (Clonguish) Aisling Greene (Clonguish), Orla Noonan (St.Helens), Una Flynn (Clonguish), Anna McDonnell (Killoe), Sarah Tierney (Mostrim), Denise Murtagh (St.Helens).
The Team In Full
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