JASON RYAN began to plot and plan for a Leinster SFC semi-final meeting with Dublin in three weeks' time immediately after Longford had been dispatched at the second attempt in Tullamore yesterday.
"(Dublin's) tackling, organisation and structure against Louth was absolutely awesome and it's a difficult task. We're delighted to be there though," said the Wexford manager after his team's 1-13 to 0-15 win.
Ryan had watched his team slip through by the narrowest of margins thanks to a last-minute score from Redmond Barry in a match that Longford will feel they definitely could and probably should have won. They dominated so much of the game and in centre-back Michael Quinn, had the game's outstanding figure.
Tellingly, they wasted numerous goal chances - Brian Kavanagh, Paul Barden and Paul Kelly all had gilt-edged opportunities - and that was to prove critical as Barry stole in for Wexford's late winning point.
As expected, Ciarán Lyng was ruled out with a leg injury and with the likes of David Murphy and Aindreas Doyle also absent, one wondered if Wexford would have the players to cope with these losses. Ryan introduced five subs, and he felt that their influence was cru- cial as Wexford finished so strongly in the final 10 minutes.
"Of the team that got to the All-Ireland semi-final in 2008 there's just one player who is still playing in the same position and that's Anthony Masterson in goal," said the Wexford boss.
"Coming into the game today we had five guys who would normally be starting or pushing for places so that's a big, big blow. We were still able to bring on players though who made a big, big difference, so it's a good day for the group today. The squad got us through that so we're really happy. Colm Morris, Joe Wadding, Paddy Byrne and James Holmes all made a big, big difference when they came into the game."
Unsurprisingly, Longford boss Glenn Ryan was disconsolate: "That was very, very hard to take. I just feel bad for the lads," said the Kildare native.
"It's a gutter because we should have won it. We had the chances. They kicked some fantastic scores. But the lads can be very, very proud of themselves."