Longford Slashers struggled to a two point victory against Rathcline in the opening round of the Division 1 Football League at Michael Fay Park on Sunday last. Slashers had newcomers Peter Foy (ex-Cashel) and Marc Diffley (ex-Sean Connolly’s) in action while the return from England of stalwart Dominic Glennon added certain steel to a defence that was without county full-back Barry Gilleran.
Niall Mulligan and Mark Smith were also notable absentees as the reigning Division 1 league champions held on at the finish after a spirited comeback from Rathcline in the second half.
Colin Smith found his range early on and a 1-2 contribution from the full-forward saw Slashers lead 1-4 to 0-1 after 15 minutes. Trevor Clendenning and Martin Nevin were also on target while Patrick Mullooly replied for Rathcline.
Further scores from Smith, Nevin and Philip Dobson saw Slashers push 9 points clear after playing with a very strong wind in the first half. Patrick Mullooly and Paul Kelly exchanged scores late in the half which left Slashers in a comfortable 1-8 to 0-2 lead at the break.
Under new manager Gerry Lynn, Rathcline made much better use of the wind on the changeover. They persisted in delivering long ball into their full-forward-line, using the strength of the gale at their backs as a means of rattling the opposition. Their very first attack in the second half yielded a James Hanley goal and while Colin Smith pointed for the home side, the ‘Raths’ soon took over.
Further scores from Derek Casserly, Liam Connerton (son of the Slashers manager Denis Connerton) and a Patrick Mullooly goal saw Rathcline close the gap to just two points and when Mullooly added another point Slashers were visibly struggling.
However, substitute Andrew Dalton relieved some of the pressure with a point and that proved to be the last score of the game as Slashers stuttered to a first win in the 2013 season.
LONGFORD SLASHERS: C Farrell; L Doherty, D Glennon, G Ghee; P Brady, D Brady, P Foy; M Brady, D Sheridan; M Diffley, P Kelly (0-1), T Clendenning (0-1); M Nevin (0-2), C Smith (1-5), P Dobson (0-1).
Subs:- C Clarke for G Ghee (injured, 26 mins); S Phillips for P Dobson (half-time); A Dalton (0-1) for M Nevin (half-time); S Flynn for L Doherty (43 mins); B Farrell for T Clendenning (51 mins); B Walsh for P Kelly (blood sub - 58 mins).
RATHCLINE: D Mulvihill; C Greene, M Morrissey, B Fallon; M Hanley, C Casey, S Farrell; D Casserly (0-1), S Casserly; R Fallon, P Mullooly (1-3), K Chapman; A Madden, J Carroll, J Hanley (1-1).
Subs:- L Connerton (0-1) for R Fallon (25 mins); S Donohoe for C. Casey (half-time).
Referee: F Toher (Killoe Emmet Og).