December club conclusion would work better - Davis
There are few if any downsides to a club like Mullinalaghta winning a Leinster title but the conclusion of the competition on St Patrick's Day instead of the same calendar year is something that new Longford manager Pádraic Davis is having to grapple with as he prepares for a Division 3 league campaign.
With Mullinalaghta's semi-final not until February 16 and Davis happy not to press any of their players into county action until their run is at an end, they'll be without eight of their squad for at least the first three league matches.
On top of that there are six injuries, including Seán and Pádraig McCormack and Conor Berry, one player (Dessie Reynolds) exam-tied and the retirement of Barry Gilleran and Diarmuid Masterson to digest.
"I've seen managers being concerned over being down five or six, try 15," said Davis, manager of the county's U-21 side when they lost an U-21 final to Wexford in 2011 and a past player of renown.
Having the club competitions conclude in December would be a help he acknowledged but he's not complaining after a win early last month that has electrified the county.
Impact "It doesn't really have a major impact on the bigger counties but it certainly is going to have a big impact on us. We're without them now for three rounds of the league at least and that's just presuming that lads are going to down tools one week later and come back in and play for their county (if they lose their semi-final).
"There is a big argument for it (club competition) to be finished in the calendar year. Having said that, it's 1968 since we were in this position with something similar. We're so long waiting for it, we're not going to complain. Everybody can get their own little it of inspiration. I think a big plus is how lads have come in who otherwise would have got very little game-time in the league or the O'Byrne Cup and they've picked up the pieces."
County captain Donal McElligott, John Keegan, Rian Brady, Gary Rogers, Jayson Matthews, Paddy Fox and James and David McGivney are the Mullinalaghta representatives on the Longford squad for 2019.
Davis has described their achievement as 'extraordinary', suggesting many people still don't comprehend the scale of it. "People might say anyone can do it if Mullinalaghta can do it. It's not that simple. It's a little bit too lazy. Their situation is a complete one-off," he said.
Longford face Westmeath in an O'Byrne Cup semi-final on Saturday and Davis has revealed that every player he asked in for 2019 has made himself available, an issue his predecessor Denis Connerton had at the beginning of his term.
"Nobody said they didn't want to play for whatever reason," he said.