An excellent first half display set Longford on their way to a well deserved win over Meath at the Kilmainhamwood grounds on Sunday evening last in their final match before the Leinster Senior Football Championship first round clash against Laois on May 22nd. (Live on RTE with a 2pm throw-in).
Senior Football Challenge - Longford 2-13, Meath 2-12
There is a sense of confidence within the Longford set-up at the moment. Following their Division 4 title triumph they have now prepared for the Laois game on Sunday week with a couple of promising results in challenge games without injured players Diarmuid Masterson and David Barden.
It was Meath who started the game in blistering fashion and with just two minutes gone on the clock they had built up a four point lead. Graham Reilly found the back of the net inside the first minute and Paddy Gilsenan added a point.
Brian Kavanagh fisted over Longford’s first score in the 5th minute but Brian Farrell replied minutes later to restore Meath’s four point advantage.
Throughout the league campaign Paul Barden was in fantastic goalscoring form and the Clonguish clubman was on target again in the 13th minute. In a sweeping move involving Kavanagh, Sean McCormack and Noel Farrell, the ball was laid off to Barden who shot to the back of the net.
A point by Bernard McElvaney drew Longford level in the 14th minute and from then until the break they were in complete control. Kavanagh put them in front in the 17th minute and then Francie McGee pointed a free six minutes later. The Longford defence were on top and Meath just could not find a way into the game.
A free from Reilly for Meath was sandwiched in between by points from McCormack and McGee before Longford extended their lead to six points in the 33rd minute with a well taken goal from Shane Mulligan.
Paul Barden and Sean McCormack fired over further scores to leave Longford ahead by eight points at the break, 2-8 to 1-3.
As expected both managers made a number of changes in the second half and Meath slowly found their way back into the game. Inside the opening five minutes they added on three points to their tally.
But Longford pulled away again with points from McCormack (free), Donie McElligott (an excellent effort) and substitute Kevin Mulligan.
Meath got their first score in 15 minutes in the 53rd minute but Longford responded with a fine point from Kevin Diffley. Meath then fired over three unanswered points as the game entered the final eight minutes.
Sean McCormack landed a lovely point in the 63rd minute which was to be Longford’s last score of the game. Gilsenan brought Meath to within two of Longford in the space of a couple of minutes when he scored 1-1. Though, Anthony Moyles appeared to throw the ball to the forward for the goal.
Three minutes from time there was just one point between the sides when Paddy O’Rourke fired over his third score of the game. Despite having the chances Longford failed to add to their tally in the closing stages but they held out for the win and the attention now turns to O’Moore Park in Portlaoise on Sunday week for the match that really matters.
LONGFORD: Damien Sheridan; Dermot Brady, Barry Gilleran, Declan Reilly; Shane Mulligan (1-0), Kevin Diffley (0-1), Noel Farrell; Bernard McElvaney (0-1), Martin Brady; Francis McGee (0-2, one free), Paddy Dowd, Paul Barden (1-1); Donie McElligott (0-1), Brian Kavanagh (0-2), Sean McCormack (0-4, two frees).
Subs used:- Niall Mulligan for P Dowd (23 mins); Kevin Mulligan (0-1) for P Barden (half-time); John O’Shea for B McElvaney (54 mins); Peter Foy for S Mulligan (60 mins).
MEATH: Brendan Murphy; Cormac McGuinness, Jamie Queeney, Caoimhin King; Terry Skelly, Brian Menton, Kevin Reilly; Shane O’Rourke, Nigel Crawford (0-1); Paddy Gilsenan (1-2), Ian Davis (0-1), Seamus Kenny (0-1); Graham Reilly (1-3, two frees), Paddy O’Rourke (0-3), Brian Farrell (0-1).
Subs used:- Brian Meade for B Farrell (half-time); Stephen Bray for I Davis and Ciaran Lenehan for T Skelly (50 mins); Gary O’Brien for C King (51 mins); William Ryan for C McGuinness (53 mins); Anthony Moyles for S O’Rourke (54 mins).
Referee: Pat McEnaney (Monaghan).