Interview with Adrian Moran ahead of Allianz NHL game against Leitrim

Longford booked their place in the semi-finals of the Allianz National Hurling League Division 3B after their eight-point victory over Lancashire at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park.

Cavan’s four-point win over Leitrim booked a final place for the Breffni men, and with both Leitrim and Longford having beaten fourth placed Lancashire, they will again face each other in the semi-final for the second successive year, irrespective of the outcome of next Saturday’s dead-rubber meeting between the two teams which will just decide home advantage for the winner.

Speaking after Saturday’s crucial victory, Adrian Moran gave his thoughts on the game and started by expressing his delight at both the performance and the victory.

‘Yes, I’m happy with the performance as well as the result. We came into the game looking for a performance and we definitely got that. The lads responded well after the opening day loss to Cavan with a good win and display against Warwickshire and have now backed that up with the victory over Lancashire. We are not getting carried away, it’s all about the performances and you have to give credit to everyone today with the game going ahead in difficult conditions, the officials, the players of both teams, and the ground staff. It was heavy going but the game went ahead and thankfully, we got out of it with a good win.’

Adrian agreed that the five unanswered points from Longford in the first half that converted a two -point deficit into a three-point advantage was a major turning point in the match. He also acknowledged that the entire team played really well.

‘We played some really good ball, but at times we are still guilty of some silly play, but in general, we played well and we are throwing the ball around better than what we were and when you do that, it creates scores. The guys are mad to play for Longford and they are putting in tremendous work at training. That passage of play definitely gave our lads a massive boost, they did not panic when Lancashire went four points to two up, they just implemented what we did in training and executed those attacking plays with precision during that scoring burst, and it really did give us a platform to go from strength to strength after that.’

Goalkeeper Pat Burke pulled off some magnificent saves to prevent Lancashire from raising the green flag and in particular, his save from Shane Madden’s fifteen-yard effort after he had been put through on goal by a clever David Burke pass on twenty-six minutes was especially crucial, and Adrian paid testament to the Longford stopper.
‘Pat is a top-class keeper and is one of the best keepers that we had at home in Westmeath. He is a long time on the go and he offers a lot to our team, and we are glad to have him onboard.’

Longford had a lot of injuries during the game and had to use their bench accordingly. The loss of centre-half forward David Buckley after just eight minutes was a massive blow for Longford, but young Dan Crossan came off the bench and again caught the eye. Adrian reflected on both the injuries sustained during the game and the performance of the Clonguish Gaels youngster.

‘Yes, Dan did really well when he came on for David who had to go off really early in the game. We suffered heavily with injuries throughout the game, but it’s a squad game and that’s what the panel is about. It is a very tight-knit group, and these injuries are going to come and it’s all about the reaction of the substitutes when they come on as replacements, and Dan was on really early and he stepped up to the mark, as did all the subs when they came on. It was a really strong all-round squad performance today.’

Looking ahead to the last league game against Leitrim which takes place this coming Saturday, the Longford manager stated that it’s a very quick turnaround to that game which will make it difficult for the injured players to be fit in time for it.

‘We would like to keep the momentum going with another win, but in relation to our injured players, it’s only a six-day turnaround for us to deal with the injuries that we now have, but hopefully, most of those lads will be fit for Saturday. Hopefully, we will put in another good display next week. Leitrim are a solid outfit with plenty of good players and they will give us a difficult test, but there is not much between any of the teams in this division, and it’s just about who performs the best on the day, and hopefully, we can be that team next Saturday.’

After Cavan defeated Leitrim on Sunday by four points at Kingspan Breffni Park, a result that means that Leitrim and Longford will face-off again in two weeks’ time in the semi-final, one may be forgiven for thinking that Saturday’s clash will be nothing more than a shadow boxing affair, however, Adrian emphasised that their will still be a competitive edge to the match.

‘It means that it’s a game for both teams to experiment a bit and work on improving some of the weaknesses for both ourselves and Leitrim. However, whoever wins on Saturday will get home advantage for the semi-final clash, and both teams would prefer a home semi-final, so both sides will still be very anxious to win on Saturday. I have to say that I have been very impressed with how Cavan have turned things around from a very poor league and championship last year to reach this year’s league final, and they will be well rested for whoever comes through from the semi-final.’