Longford has seen some great moments in the past 25 years. Some of the most momentous ‘giant killings’ in recent times have been handed down by the ‘midlanders’, with Kerry, Dublin and Derry all falling at the feet of ‘The Farrell County’ men. Our judging panel for this edition of ‘The Best 15’ are synonymous with this era in Longford football. Having all tasted success at both club and county level, there was no better triumvirate to pick the ‘Best Longford 15 to never win a Senior Club Championship’, than Padraic Davis, Paul Barden and Trevor Smullen.
What makes these men even more qualified for the task at hand is that they have all been part of Longford management teams both past and present, meaning they have played with, against and coached the team they have selected. So, without further ado, here are the chosen ones.
“Hands down the easiest pick on the team” said Padraic Davis of his Fr. Manning Gaels clubmate Paddy Collum. The Ballinamuck native has developed in to one of the best keepers in the country since making his Longford debut in 2011. More impressively, he made his senior club debut for ‘The Gaels’ 2 years previous in 2009, aged 16. Although he has never got his hands on the Connolly Cup, he is held in high esteem inside and outside the county and his stock continues to rise with each passing year.
Honourable Mention: Tommy Farrell (Rathcline)
Full Back Line:
Rathcline defender Shane Carroll took the Number 2 shirt, being described as “a classy corner back with a hard edge” by Trevor Smullen. Cathal Lee of Colmcille was chosen at full back with Davis regrettably explaining how he was “unlucky to make this team” after his clubs’ county final defeat in 1994. Completing the full back line is Carrickedmond’s Barry O’Farrell, who according to Paul Barden “makes life very easy for himself by reading a game to perfection”.
Honourable Mentions: Andrew Farrell (Cashel), Cormac Smyth (Abbeylara)
Granard goliath David Blessington was the first pick at wing back, his trojan efforts off the field, were reflected on it. The rewards of his efforts were trials with Ireland when the compromise rules tests with Australia were at the peak of its powers. The number 6 jersey was given to current Ballymahon and Longford star Kevin Diffley, who Smullen describes as “a player who is constantly improving”. Sean Connollys club man Padraig Farrell was chosen on the opposite wing, his efforts in carrying his club to a county final in 1992 earned him his place in the team.
Honourable Mentions: Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connollys) , Mickey Harkins (Granard)
Arguably two of the finest midfielders Longford has ever produced were selected at midfield. The first was Bernard McElvaney, “a man that was 6’2 but played like he was 6’6” said Trevor about the Ballymore man. Beside him is Darren Gallagher of Granard. “I once said in an interview that he is one of the best midfielders in the country and people were taken aback by it” explained Padraic. “and it’s only now that he is getting the recognition that his performances deserve, locally and nationally”.
Honourable Mentions: Liam Keenan (Ardagh), Conor Berry (Abbeylara)
Carrickedmond stalwart Eugene McCormack was chosen at wing-forward, one of the most respected men in Longford GAA circles and a shining light at a time when South-Longford teams were under performing in the championship. On the 40 is the “frightfully accurate” Mark Connor of Ballymahon, whom they poached from neighbouring club Forgney a year after their 2002 Championship triumph. Completing the trio is Abbeylara warrior Colm P. Smyth, who can count himself very unlucky to be on the team after appearing in 4 county finals in a row. “He shouldn’t be here, but unfortunately he is” lamented Padraic.
Honourable Mentions: Padraic Gill (Fr. Manning Gaels), Padraig Shanley (Rathcline), Philip O’Hara (Granard)
“You need to either play with him or coach him to appreciate how good he is” said Davis of Colmcille man Barry McKeon, “he has the best brain I’ve ever come across” which more than earned him his place at corner-forward. At full-forward is Robbie Smyth, the naturally gifted Abbeylara man is another who is unfortunate to make this team with his club coming so close to claiming the title in recent years. At number 15 and completing the team is Sean Connolly’s clubman Ciaran Fox, like his clubmate Padraig Farrell, he helped carry the Ballinalee men to a county final appearance in 1992.
Honourable Mentions: Liam Connerton (Rathcline) , Willy Skelly (Killashee)
Team In Full:
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