Fogarty's troops ready for tough Longford trip
ST. ANNE'S are under no illusions regarding the task facing them when they come up against Longford champions Emmet Og (Killoe) in the opening round of the AIB Leinster Club Senior football championship at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, Longford, on Sunday next 2.30 p.m.).
While they have laid down a marker with their sterling county final display, their opponents will be facing into their third huge fixture in as many weeks as only on Sunday last they lifted their own county title for the first time since 1995 with an extra-time victory over Longford Slashers in a replay.
It has been a hugely-impressive year for the St. Anne's footballers who went through their group games with a one hundred per cent record intact, but it was their displays in the knockout stages, particularly the final, that leave them ready to kick up a storm in the provincial title race.
The county's not so proud record in the provincial club football championship race has not been lost on St. Anne's captain, David Fogarty, who is confident that his side can take their county final form to another level as they take on the Longford titleholders in what is sure to be a close-run affair.
'For the majority of our side it will be a first taste of football at this level but they will have gained in confidence along the way to the county title. We have the ideal blend of experience and youth, while also important is the fact that we have quite a good bench. This was demonstrated for the second-half against Castletown, and it's something which should stand to us at this level of competition,' he said.
'There's no doubt that this is a massive game for us but we have prepared well. We were back training within a week of the county final success. The lads have put in a huge effort and are really looking forward to the game. We will travel to Longford on the Sunday morning confident that we can deliver a victory.'
It has been a heavy few weeks back on the training field for the St. Anne's players who have put their celebrations on hold as they bid to create a place in history for the club in being the first side from the Model county to lift a provincial club football title. Fogarty is delighted with the response of the players, particularly they way they have settled back in.
'We have put in the effort. The players have responded to the fitness coaching skills of Kevin Cogley, while David Murphy has put in some coaching with the back line.
Also Mick Casey, one of Jason Ryan's backroom team, has been in to up the tempo of preparation. These men, along with manager Mark Foley and selectors Richard Kavanagh and John Ormonde have got a tremendous response from the players,' he said.
'The fans and the players will be fired up for it so we'll need to front up from the outset like the county final. We'll have to impose our gameplan and not be dictated to.
'It's going to be a big ask but we are quietly confident of setting up a second round home fixture with the Meath champions. But it's Emmet Og first. We're thinking no further.'
St. Anne's have no injury worries in the lead-up to the game and will be selecting from a full panel with David O'Connor and Franny Simpson, half-time replacements in the county final, pushing for starting slots, so the management team have much to think about.
St. Anne's will take many positives from their county final win over Castletown, particularly the displays of players like Redmond Barry who was a revelation, Jonathan Fogarty, Liam Og McGovern, Cian McGovern, Seán Gaul, Kenny Cloney and the O'Keeffe brothers.
They are a side of many talents. They have everything to play for and given their positive approach to this game they look capable of securing a victory and a home tie with the Meath champions on November 11.