It took the Longford U-21 footballers quite some time to get their act together but from the moment corner-forward Larry Moran fired home a cracking goal with 23 minutes gone on the clock there was no stopping the home county who crushed a poor Galway outfit in the Hastings Cup Round 1 game at the Clonbonny grounds, Lanesboro on Saturday last.
It was a most encouraging performance by Francis McNamee’s talented team and they will travel to the Hawkfield Centre of Excellence in Newbridge this Friday night in a confident frame of mind for the next Hastings Cup fixture against Kildare as the preparations continue for the Leinster Championship first round clash against Wicklow in Newtowncashel on Wednesday night February 25th.
Longford U-21 manager McNamee and his selectors Ciaran Fox, Gareth Johnston and Karl Dermody are working with a strong squad and not even the absence of Kenagh’s Rory Connor (in action for DCU against his native county in the O’Byrne Cup last weekend), with Paddy Kiernan (Killoe) and Shane Kenny (Rathcline) also not featuring, could halt their relentless gallop against a much understrength Galway side who were short a lot of players due to college football commitments.
While the sharp attack were impressive, and particularly the full-forward-line of Larry Moran, Liam Connerton and Dessie Reynolds, tigerish wing back Liam Sullivan also made a major impact for the superior Longford side.
Having said that, it was Galway who held a slender 0-3 to 0-2 lead after 20 minutes as Longford squandered several scoring chances, including at least two clear-cut goal attempts.
David McGivney (free) and Liam Connerton (a great long range strike) got the early scores before Longford eventually clicked into top gear to completely dominate the closing stages of the first half.
A well struck David McGivney free in the 22nd minute left the sides all square and then well-taken goals from Larry Moran and Dessie Reynolds in quick succession opened up a comfortable lead.
In between, Liam Connerton shot over the bar and a further three points followed from David McGivney (one from play) as rampant Longford ended up leading by 3-7 to 0-3 at the break and could have been even further in front as Reynolds was denied twice in other goal attempts with the Galway keeper making point-blank saves.
It was a glorious spell of excellent football that was a joy to watch and while not as effective in the second half, the home side still managed to add another seven points to their impressive tally through Liam Connerton (when a goal was there for the taking), David McGivney (two frees) and Larry Moran with defenders Conor Shields and Liam Sullivan and midfielder Fergal Sheridan also getting their names on the scoresheet.
Galway tried hard to improve on the changeover and succeeded in scoring another 1-4, the consolation goal coming from a penalty converted by substitute Barry McHugh in the 53rd minute.
LONGFORD: Colm Farrell (Longford Slashers); Patrick Farrell (Carrickedmond), Cian Farrelly (Killoe Emmet Og), Anthony McBrien (Abbeylara); Conor Shields (Clonguish, 0-1), Mattie Gorman (Ballymore), Liam Sullivan (Granard, 0-1); Andrew Dalton (Longford Slashers), Fergal Sheridan (Colmcille, 0-1); Ross McNerney (Dromard), Emmet Noonan (Fr Manning Gaels), David McGivney (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s, 0-7, six frees); Larry Moran (Killoe Emmet Og, 2-1), Liam Connerton (Rathcline, 0-3), Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connolly’s, 1-0).
Subs:- Vinny Hourican (Colmcille) for L Connerton (35 mins); Andrew Farrell (Cashel) for M Gorman (41 mins); Shane Clarke (Killoe Emmet Og) for C Shields (51 mins); Nigel Rabbitte (Abbeylara) for F Sheridan (56 mins); Eoin Sorohan (Rathcline) for L Moran (56 mins); Gavin Kelly (Cashel) for D Reynolds (60 mins).
GALWAY: Rory Lavelle; Brian Shaughnessy, Sean Kelly, Jack Wyndham; Conor Cunningham, Dylan Corbett, Eoghan Kerin; Michael Day (0-1), Enda Walsh; James Mannion (0-1), Ger Gibbons (0-3, two frees), Eamon Brannigan; Damien Connaughton, Joe Donnellan (0-1), Michael Mac Walter.
Subs used:- Barry McHugh (1-1, goal from penalty, point from free); Luke Burke, James Healy, Cathal Reilly, Oisin O Griofa, Kevin O’Donovan.
Referee: Niall Ward