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Larries won't be complacent

LONGFORD footballers have proven themselves kings of league consistency over the last two springs, but that will count for nothing against Laois this Sunday, insists selector Pádraic Davis.

"In terms of the National League, we have come a long way -- but in terms of championship, the jury is absolutely out.

"And that is something we want to put right," declared Davis, who has played a significant behind-the-scenes role since joining Glenn Ryan's backroom team two years ago.

A growing groundswell of neutral opinion suggests the Larries can kickstart this year's Leinster SFC race by dumping Laois out at the first hurdle.

In their favour, Ryan's avengers have home advantage and a more compelling league formline -- they have clinched back-to-back promotions, adding the Division Three title to last year's Division Four crown, whereas Laois followed up last year's top-flight promotion by boomeranging straight back down again.

The net result is that both counties will themselves be sharing the same Division Two airspace next spring --but Davis doesn't see it that way.

"They are a top-flight side, and still are until Division Two kicks off next year. That's a two-division gap ... and a cause for concern," he admitted. "But if we perform to the best of our ability, we will be there or thereabouts."

A prolific inside forward during his own lengthy career in blue, Davis is now part of a management team that oversees such gifted attackers as Paul Barden, Brian Kavanagh and Seán McCormack.

But he points to Longford's recent Leinster traumas as one reason why they won't be losing the run of themselves ahead of Sunday's Pearse Park opener. Four summers running -- against Westmeath in 2008, Wicklow in '09, Louth in '10 and then Laois last May -- they have fallen at the first provincial fence.

"With the championship record we've had in recent times, there is absolutely no chance of us getting carried away.," he said.

"Whether we've had a couple of good league campaigns or not, there is absolutely no chance of us being complacent. If we don't win (on Sunday) it's because we are not good enough and for no other reason."

On the plus side, league victories breed confidence and Davis confirmed that it's "very easy to run a camp when they are getting wins.

"We've had only one defeat and one draw in the last two seasons, and that was coming off a very poor (2010) campaign in Division Four where we only beat Kilkenny and London."

He added: "They are very committed, very professional -- as are all inter-county teams. But by Longford standards in the past, this is an exceptionally focussed and professional group of lads."

Longford won't finalise their team until tomorrow night, with lingering doubts about the fitness of David Barden (ankle) and Paul Kelly (hamstring).

Davis was "reasonably confident" that Barden will be passed fit, though admitting it was "the most peculiar injury I ever came across", while Kelly was rated 50-50.


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