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Friday 22 September 2017

Longford are a very decent side

Sligo captain Neil Ewing in action against Laois. Sligo face Longford away this Sunday
Sligo captain Neil Ewing in action against Laois. Sligo face Longford away this Sunday

Tommy Breheny - Straight Talking

With three games to go it's all to play for in Division Three of the National League.

This Sunday Sligo travel the short journey to Longford in search of two points that would keep us in the promotion race entering the final two games.

While Louth have eight points on the table and lead the way, they however have yet to play Armagh, Tipperary and Sligo in their last three games.

In this regard Sligo are best placed among the contenders with only one of the fellow hopefuls, Louth to play, with both Tipp and Armagh yet having to play against each other, in addition to both having to play Louth.

This is where we look with regret over the two points dropped in Antrim, as it looks like we may have to get something from all three games now instead of two.

Even though we are currently fourth in the table after Tipperary pushed us down a place with their win over Longford in last weekend's rearranged game, the positive is that our destiny is in our own hands, where three wins guarantee promotion because of the sequence of games left to be played.

Next Sunday's game is very tricky as Longford, under Denis Connerton are a very decent side and while only having two points on the table after losing three times their scoring average, is only minus six points highlighting that they have lost their games very narrowly.

Throw in our poor away record with the fact Longford are fighting for their lives to avoid relegation, it makes this game very interesting and important to both sides.

There is no doubt at the beginning of the year I would have been very happy with the current position of the team, but you get greedy at the prospect of Division Two football next year.

If we feel we belong in Division Two we have to be able to deal with games like next Sunday which will be championship like, due to what's at stake for both teams.

Last time out Niall Carew introduced a number of substitutes, or now as they say in rugby terms, finishers, which was instrumental in getting the game over the line, this creating plenty of consideration on picking the team for this week.

As well as this, both Mark and Ross cried off before throw-in the last day which adds to the problem.

There is always plenty of people with opinions regarding this matter but the management are best informed when making these decisions as they see what's going on at training, who's fit or not fit be that physically or match fit.

You also consider what fresh legs in certain areas you may need during the course of a game or when a game opens up.

There is always so many matters to consider on top of the opposition as well.

Sometimes players lose out on starting because of it, as Padraig Doohan did when John Kent, PJ Langton and myself finalised a team for a Connacht Final in 2007.

Our rational was that Padraig who was obviously a brilliant player was pushing on in years and if we started him, and then had a problem at midfield in the last third of the game and then moved him into midfield, he wouldn't have had an impact in such an important area.

As it turned out Eamonn O'Hara limped out early in the second half and Padraig came on fresh and helped get the game over the line so it was easy for us to justify the call. Even if it didn't turn out that way I would still defend the decision based on the grounds it was made, as these are the calls that management have to make win or lose, popular or unpopular.

Writing this piece helped me recall also a game we played against Wexford down in Wexford Park, where I got lambasted for not playing or introducing a certain player in the forward line.

What these people didn't know was that this particular player was injured and didn't even make the trip, and was at home in Sligo.

Moral of the story, while managers and selectors don't always get things right they are still best informed to make these decisions and have to live with them, as Stephen Rochford of Mayo will testify.

Back to next weekend's games and if we can bring the form from the second half against Laois to Glennon Brothers Pearse Park we will bring home two points anything less won't be enough.

I mentioned recently that Longford's top player Mickey Quinn was out for the league but the bad news for Sligo is that he is now back.

We will need to restrict his influence as he is a player that can single handily control a game.

In the other matches I expect Armagh to start deflating the Louth bubble, Tipperary will keep their momentum going against Offaly and Laois will start getting out of relegation bother up in Antrim.

Sligo Champion

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