For the second successive year Longford suffered the disappointment of relegation in the National League as they dropped from Division 2 to Division 4 in the space of 12 months.
The scoreline in Wexford may suggest this was a tight game but in truth two stoppage time goals added some respectability to the final score for Longford. They were just second best throughout. Their best spell came in the final minutes but it was too little too late at that stage.
Throughout this league campaign Longford have not put in a performance for the whole 70 plus minutes and this has cost them. Playing in patches against experienced teams won’t pick up points.
Using the wind to their advantage has been a big problem for Longford this year too and on Sunday it was no different. They had the wind in the first half but didn’t make use of it and with the game all square at the break; 0-8 apiece, it was always going to be tough for them in the second half.
With the aid of a stiff wind Wexford made the better start to the second half and had opened up a three point lead by the 47th minute before Kevin O’Grady scored a goal minutes later and it looked like no way back for Longford. They did create a few goal chances to get back into the game but nothing to test Wexford keeper Shane Roche, that was until they did raise the green flag (twice) right at the end when it was too late.
From the start it looked like it was going to be a real battle for Longford. Wexford were dangerous when they went on the attack and opened Longford up quite easily. U-21 player Barry O’Farrell was introduced in the 50th minute but at that stage Wexford were in the ascendency and were five points up. They were completely on top at midfield and their backs were closing down every Longford attack.
In a tight first half PJ Banville and Ciaran Lyng were very more to the fore for Wexford, while Michael Quinn, Paul Barden and Sean McCormack provided the main threat for Longford. It was Kevin O’Grady who opened the scoring in the second minute but a great point from Mark Hughes levelled matters minutes later.
Ciaran Lyng scored his first point of the game in the 7th minute and in the 10th minute Sean McCormack opened his account with a pointed free after Paul Barden was fouled. Wexford then edged ahead by two in the 12th minute but three points from McCormack (two frees) put Longford in front by one by the 19th minute.
Points were traded between James Holmes and Barden before Wexford were in front again in the 26th minute. Another McCormack free levelled proceedings minutes later. O’Grady replied for Wexford but before the break a neat point from Michael Quinn drew Longford level, 0-8 to 0-8.
With wind advantage in the second half Wexford started very well and Longford struggled to contain them. Ben Brosnan put them ahead again two minutes in when converting a free. Two fine points from Lyng stretched the lead to three by the 47th minute. Then the killer blow was struck when a move that was started in their own backline ended with a free awarded to Wexford. It was played to Lyng who passed the ball to O’Grady and he found the back of the net.
It was all Wexford at this stage and Banville was unlucky not to get second goal minutes later. Two points in quick succession extended Wexford’s advantage to eight points by the 53rd minute and it looked like no way back for Longford. In previous games against Wexford it was Longford who squandered leads when in a commanding position.
After being completely outplayed Longford got their first score of the second half in the 58th minute when Paul Barden pointed and he followed up with another score two minutes later. In the 63rd minute Longford created a goal opportunity; Sean McCormack did well to pick out Shane Doyle but he fisted his effort right at Wexford keeper Roche.
An uncontested ball in midfield led to Adrian Flynn getting a nice point in the 64th minute and then a free from Brosnan restored Wexford’s eight point lead. But as the clock ticked down Longford suddenly started to play and in the first minute of stoppage time Colm P Smyth fisted to the net and then one minute later Barden stabbed the ball over the line. Unfortunately those last gasp goals came with time almost up and Longford made the drop to Division 4.
WEXFORD: Shane Roche; Brian Malone, Graeme Molloy, Michael Furlong; Adrian Flynn (0-1), James Breen, Conor Carty; Daithi Waters (0-1), Cillian Kehoe; Graeme Cullen, Ben Brosnan (0-2, 1 free), James Holmes (0-1); Ciaran Lyng (0-6,1 free), PJ Banville (0-1), Kevin O’Grady (1-2).
Subs:- Michael O’Regan (0-1) for G Cullen (50 mins); Tiernan Rossiter for Michael Furlong (50 mins); Niall Harney for T Rossiter (69 mins); Robert Tierney for K O’Grady (70 mins).
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Dermot Brady, Barry Gilleran, Fergal Battrim; Colm P Smyth (1-0), Enda Williams, Shane Mulligan; Kevin Diffley, John Keegan; Aidan Rowan, Paul Barden (1-3), Michael Quinn (0-1); Mark Hughes (0-1), Sean McCormack (0-5, 3 frees), Brian Farrell.
Subs:- Shane Doyle for B Farrell (33 mins); Simon Kiernan for K Diffley (45 mins); Barry O’Farrell for B Gilleran (50 mins); Francis McGee for M Hughes (56 mins); Peter Foy for A Rowan (69 mins).
Referee: Fergal Barry