All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifiers - Round 3A: Longford 0-11 Kildare 2-24
Fourteen-man Longford exited the All-Ireland SFC race after they were comprehensively beaten by Kildare on a 0-11 to 2-24 score-line, watched by 5,914 spectators at wind and rain swept Cusack Park, Mullingar this evening.
Longford, appearing in their 29th All-Ireland SFC qualifier game since 2001, got off to a poor start as they trailed by 0-1 to 0-8 after 21 minutes.
And just as they seemed to stabilising matters somewhat, in 1st half injury time, Eamonn Callaghan plundered for a vital Kildare goal, 1-10 to 0-5. It was a sickening blow for Longford to endure and they never really recovered.
The Kildare charge was led by Paul Cribbin and he was partnered at mid-field by Tommy Moolick, whose father hails from Newtownforbes. Moolick was a late call-up to the Kildare side in place of Gary White. Cribbin was masterful and contributed four great points but the only blot on his copybook was that he was black carded during the second half, a fate that Kildare’s Padraig O’Neill also suffered in the first half.
Longford, who have to go back to 1967 for their last senior championship win over Kildare, needed a decent start to the second half but it failed to materialise and things went from bad to worse at they were controversially reduced to 14-men following the dismissal of Diarmuid Masterson in the 46th minute.
It was 0-7 to 1-16 at that stage and when Alan Smith rammed home Kildare’s second goal shortly after, it was curtains for Longford and they were merely playing for pride over the closing twenty plus minutes. Brian Kavanagh finished as Longford’s leading scorer with 0-7 to his credit, and while Michael Quinn, Dermot Brady (after he came in), Liam Connerton, Dessie Reynolds and Masterson battled hard, it was just wasn’t to be.
Twelve players got on the scoresheet for Kildare and their experience of playing at a higher level in the NFL and their physical superiority was clearly evident. They’d also a much stronger bench to call upon.
Just 0-6 of Longford’s total came from play on the evening, while Kildare tallied 2-15 from play - that tells its own tale. And Kildare are well capable of progressing to the last eight.
Aided by the significant breeze, Kildare stormed out of the traps and they led by 0-8 to 0-1 after 21 minutes. Eoghan O’Flaherty (2), dominant midfielder Paul Cribbin (3), Padraig O’Neill (2) and Niall Kelly supplied the scores for Jason Ryan’s Lilywhites. While Longford’s sole reply was a 6th minute free converted by full forward Brian Kavanagh, whose sister was married earlier in the day.
Longford, who made two changes prior to throw-in - Cian Farrelly and Shane Doyle were introduced at the expense of Dermot Brady and Pauric Gill, respectively - kicked three unanswered points between the 25th and 29th minutes, 0-4 to 0-8.
Kavanagh landed two more frees and the other point was a fine score from play by Liam Connerton.
That Connerton score arrived after a sweeping move that was initiated by Dermot Brady (he tightened up the rearguard after being sprung in the 24th minute to replace Colm P Smyth) and involved Barry O’Farrell and Kavanagh.
Kildare’s Eamonn Callaghan and Kavanagh (free) traded points, 0-5 to 0-9, before Kildare ended the half with a big flourish.
Alan Smith kicked a point and then Callaghan blasted to the twine in added time, giving Kildare an eight points cushion at the break, Longford 0-5 Kildare 1-10.
Kildare got the start to the 2nd half that Longford needed as they landed three additional points per goalkeeper Mark Donnellan (‘45), Mark Sherry (who came in for Padraig O’Neill who picked up a 19th minute black card) and Eoghan O’Flaherty, 1-13 to 0-5.
Rory Connor and Dessie Reynolds pulled back points for Jack Sheedy’s Longford before Kildare quickly surged twelve points clear, 1-16 to 0-7, thanks to Cribbin (his 4th point of the game), O’Flaherty (free) and Donnellan (‘45).
Referee Derek O’Mahony then took centre stage. He correctly issued a black card to Cribbin and then Longford’s Diarmuid Masterson, who was also dismissed for two yellow cards against Clare, was red carded after he was shown a yellow (it was seemed to be only his first yellow after being ticked in the 1st half). The decision, understandably, infuriated the Longford management and supporters.
To rub salt into Longford wounds, Alan Smith plundered for Kildare’s second goal, 0-7 to 2-16, in the 48th minute. Shortly after the ref spread his arms indicating he was awarding a penalty to Longford but he did a u-turn and from there to the finish it was rampant Kildare that kicked on, outscoring Longford by 0-8 to 0-4. On two occasions, Kildare actually led 14-man Longford by twenty points, 0-8 to 2-22 and 0-9 to 2-23, before Longford hit back with late scores from McEntire and Kavanagh (his 7th of the match).
It is back to the domestic championship for Longford’s players next weekend and after a season where Longford gained promotion from Division 4, lost the Div 4 final and played five championship games for the first time since 2006, blooding many new young players along the way, it will be interesting to see what the future holds.
Scorers: Kildare - Eoghan O’Flaherty 0-5 (0-4 frees), Paul Cribbin 0-4, Alan Smith 1-1, Eamonn Callaghan 1-1, Mikey Conway 0-3 (frees), Mark Donnellan 0-2 (‘45’s), Padraig O’Neill 0-2, Niall Kelly 0-2, Ollie Lyons 0-1, Mark Sherry 0-1, Emmet Bolton 0-1, Cathal McNally 0-1.
Longford - Brian Kavanagh 0-7 (0-5 frees), Liam Connerton 0-1, Dessie Reynolds 0-1, Rory Connor 0-1, Ronan McEntire 0-1.
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Cian Farrelly, Barry Gilleran, Fergal Battrim; Colm P Smyth, Barry O’Farrell, Diarmuid Masterson; Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon), Michael Quinn (capt.); Shane Doyle, Ronan McEntire, Rory Connor; Liam Connerton, Brian Kavanagh, Dessie Reynolds.
Subs.: Dermot Brady for Colm P Smyth (24 mins), Peter Foy for K Diffley (44 mins), Pauric Gill for S Doyle (55 mins), Thomas Gallagher for F Battrim (59 mins), Ross McNerney for R Connor (63 mins).
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Ciaran Fitzpatrick, Mick O’Grady, Ollie Lyons; Kevin Murnaghan, Emmet Bolton, Eoin Doyle; Paul Cribbin, Tommy Moolick; Padraig O’Neill, Eoghan O’Flaherty, Cathal McNally; Eamon Callaghan, Alan Smith, Niall Kelly.
Subs: Mark Sherry for P O’Neill, black card, (21 mins), Hugh Lynch for P Cribbin, black card, (48 mins), Mikey Conway for E O’Flaherty (55 mins), Peter Kelly for E Doyle (58 mins), Padraig Fogarty for A Smith (59 mins), Cian O’Donoghue for E Bolton (65 mins).
Referee: Derek O’Mahony (Tipperary).