Longford lost their second Leinster Junior Final in a row as a dominant spell midway through the second half saw Cavan claim their second Leinster Junior title in three years at a damp and wet Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Wednesday evening of last week.
After levelling the game for the second time in the 42nd minute, momentum appeared to be with the home county but despite having possession and creating scoring chances they kicked a number of poor wides and in the end that proved to be their downfall.
It was a poor performance from Longford who will feel they should and could have done better. Cavan were deserving of the win in a competition that they have used to their advantage over the last number of years; using fringe senior players and member of their successful U-21 sides.
Cavan started the game well to register the opening three scores. Enda Reilly pointed his first free in the second minute. Wing-back Philip Tinnelly followed that up with a good point before Reilly hit over another free in the 8th minute.
After struggling to get into the game Longford’s first point came from a Rory Connor free after Paul McKeon was fouled. Another Reilly free restored Cavan’s three point advantage in the 14th minute and they went four up in the 17th minute with another Reilly free. Longford were struggling to get the ball into the forwards and slack marking on a number of occasions allowed Cavan to build up attacks.
In the 24th minute a great point from Paul O’Connor stretched Cavan’s lead to five points. But Longford gradually began to get into the game. After going 14 minutes without a score Ronan McEntire hit over an excellent point. In order to breach the mean Cavan defence to get scores, Longford had to shot from distance. Wing back Diarmuid Cooney got a very good score before Barry McKeon hit over a fine point to cut the gap to two points going in at the break, 0-6 to 0-4.
Whatever words of wisdom Jack Sheedy uttered at half-time had the desired effect and within five minutes of the restart Longford were on level terms; Connor with a free after McEntire was fouled and then Brian Farrell hit over a free after Andrew Dalton was dragged down.
It was all Longford at this stage but they squandered numerous chances to take the lead for the first time in the game and were left to rue those missed opportunities and poor wides.
After soaking up the pressure, a well-struck ’45 from Enda Reilly edged Cavan back in front but Longford were level again one minute later when Ronan McEntire curled over a free.
But Cavan regained the upper hand and the introduction of substitute Tom Hayes added a different dimension to the forward line and suddenly the visitors looked dangerous again.
Hayes quickly got on the scoresheet as he collected the breaking ball to fist his effort over the bar for a point to put Cavan back in the lead.
Midfielder Liam Buchanan followed up with a good effort before a great point from distance from Enda Reilly put three between the sides in the 52nd minute; it was the Mullahoran man’s sixth point of the game and his first from play.
Cavan were now on top in most positions and Longford couldn’t get to grips with them and couldn’t gain possession to start up any decent attacks. The game was basically over as a contest in the 53rd minute when a good move ended with Cavan wing back Paul Smith firing the ball to the back of the net.
Cavan were in complete control now and Longford were rocked. In the 57th minute Cavan extended their lead to seven points when Paul O’Connor hit over a free.
Both sides then made a raft of changes as they emptied their benches in the final few minutes. Longford did pull a goal back in the 60th minute in a well-worked move; Brian Farrell played a good ball back to Andrew Dalton and the Slashers man hit a superb shot to the back of the net.
It was too little too late as Cavan claimed another Leinster junior title while Longford fell at the final hurdle yet again - having also lost to Louth in the decider a few years ago.
CAVAN: James Farrelly; Damien Barkey, Jamie Morris, Fergal Reilly; Philip Tinnelly (0-1), Barry Doyle, Paul Smith (1-0); Liam Buchanan (0-1), Packie Leddy; Enda Reilly (0-6, 4f, 1’45), Chris Conroy, David Wright; Paul O’Connor (0-2, 1f), Conor P Moynagh, Thomas Moore.
Subs:- Tom Hayes (0-1) for Moore (40 mins); Brian Sankey for Leddy (47 mins); Ciaran Brady for Morris (50 mins); Hession for Smith (53 mins); Niall Clerkin for Conroy (57 mins); Gerard Smith for Tinnelly (59mins)
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Andrew Farrell, Peter Brady, Gerard Smith; James McGivney, Fergal Reilly, Diarmuid Cooney (0-1); Darren Gallagher, Ronan McEntire (0-2, 1f); Barry McKeon (0-1), Paul McKeon, Andrew Dalton (1-0); Brian Farrell (0-1, 1f), Pauric Gill, Rory Connor (0-2, 2f).
Subs:- Daniel Mimnagh for Connor (50 mins); Darren Farrelly for Cooney (53 mins); Simon Kiernan for Gallagher (54 mins); Karl Murray for Smith (60 mins); Mattie Gorman for A Farrell (61 mins).
Referee: Niall Ward (Westmeath).