Longford in pole position

Longford defender Barry O'Farrell clearing the danger against Wicklow. Action from the National Football League Division 4 clash at Aughrim on Sunday last. Photo: Declan Gilmore
Longford are just one win away from gaining promotion back to Division 3 of the National Football League after a fine win away to Wicklow on Sunday last.

Longford are just one win away from gaining promotion back to Division 3 of the National Football League after a fine win away to Wicklow on Sunday last.

Aughrim has not been a happy hunting ground for Longford and their recent record there has been poor but that all changed on Sunday as they put in an assured performance.

Some of the football they played on Sunday was terrific with fantastic scores and some very good individual displays; that’s what this team are capable of. Though they also can switch off at times and make things difficult for themselves. If they can eradicate those things out of their game they will get that complete performance.

Wicklow did cause Longford a lot of problems with Seanie Furlong and Conor McGraynor two of their main players. Furlong was the one fouled for the Wicklow penalty in the 22nd minute that got them back into the game.

It wasn’t a robust game but Kildare referee Fergal Barry handed out a number of cards with Wicklow hit hardest. John McGrath was black carded, harshly, in the 16th minute, while they were reduced to 14 men in the 53rd minute when Niall Gaffney was sent-off after receiving a second yellow card.

Longford used their numerical advantage well and ended the game strongly. Wicklow found it hard then to get scores as Longford defended resolutely.

Longford made the perfect start to the game with Francis McGee registering their first point from a free in the second minute and four minutes later they got a goal; Paul McKeon passed to Ronan McEntire and he set off on a run from about 30 metres out. The Dromard man had one thing on his mind and he made no mistake in finding the back of the net with a fantastic finish.

Seanie Furlong got Wicklow’s first score in the 8th minute before Sean McCormack fisted over the bar. Furlong (free) and Paul McKeon traded points before Conor McGraynor fired over an excellent point.

McGee replied with a great point but in the 22nd minute Wicklow were back in the game; Furlong was brought down by Enda Williams and a penalty was awarded. McGraynor’s shot was saved by Paddy Collum but the ball flew high into the air and McGraynor got the vital touch to put it past the Longford netminder.

Five minutes later and substitute Mark Kenny levelled the scores and Wicklow then hit two wides in a row. But just before the break Longford got much needed points from Francis McGee and Paul McKeon (free) to give them a 1-6 to 1-4 half-time lead.

A fantastic point from Mark Kenny two minutes into the second half cut Longford’s gap to just one but Sean McCormack hit back with a fine score for Jack Sheedy’s charges.

One of the best moves of the game came in the 43rd minute when Diarmuid Masterson played a terrific direct ball into fellow Dromard clubman McGee who landed a point. McGraynor was then on the mark for Wicklow as the sides exchanged points. Michael Quinn scored an excellent point in the 45th minute but that was cancelled out by a Seanie Furlong free.

Sean McCormack got his third point in the 51st minute but just like before Furlong replied for his side, this time with a well-taken point to leave two between the sides again.

But disaster struck for Wicklow moments later when they were reduced to 14 men. Longford used the extra man well and added on four points in a row with two from McGee (one free) and fine efforts from substitutes Shane Doyle and Brian Kavanagh.

Longford could have got another goal in the 63rd minute but Sean McCormack was unlucky that he wasn’t able to connect properly with Michael Quinn’s pass. After being completely outplayed, Wicklow got a point through wing-back Darren Hayden.

Brian Kavanagh responded with a point for Longford while a Furlong free was the home side’s final score. Enda Williams got the last score of the game in stoppage time as unbeaten Longford came away from Wicklow with a deserved and valuable win and their remaining fixtures are at home to Offaly (March 29th) and away to Carlow (April 5th).

WICKLOW: Robert Lambert; Padraig Higgins, Paul Cunningham, Aaron Murphy; Darren Hayden (0-1), Paul McLoughlin, Kevin Murphy; Anthony McLoughlin, Dean Healy; Niall Gaffney, John McGrath, Patrick McWalter; Seanie Furlong (0-5, 4 frees), Conor McGraynor (1-2), Brendan McCrea.

Subs:- Mark Kenny (0-2) for J McGrath (black card, 18 mins); Ross O’Brien for P Higgins (20 mins); Alan Byrne for P Cunningham (41 mins); Thomas Kelly for B McCrea (51 mins); Daniel Woods for A McLoughlin (58 mins); Paul Cronin for C McGraynor (67mins).

LONGFORD: Paddy Collum (Fr Manning Gaels); Dermot Brady (Longford Slashers), Barry O’Farrell (Carrickedmond), Peter Foy (Longford Slashers); Colm P Smyth (Abbeylara), Diarmuid Masterson (Dromard), Enda Williams (Clonguish, 0-1); Barry Gilleran (Longford Slashers), Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon); Michael Quinn (Killoe Emmet Og, 0-1), Paul McKeon (Colmcille, 0-2, one free), Ronan McEntire (Dromard, 1-0); Barry McKeon (Colmcille), Sean McCormack (Killoe Emmet Og, 0-3), Francis McGee (Dromard, 0-6, two frees).

Subs:- Brian Kavanagh (Kilmacud Crokes, 0-2) for B McKeon (44 mins); Shane Doyle (Kenagh, 0-1) for P McKeon (47 mins); Mark Hughes (Killoe Emmet Og) for M Quinn (67 mins); Aidan Rowan (Cashel) for K Diffley (71 mins).

Referee: Fergal Barry