Longford warmed up for their Leinster Senior Football Championship first round clash against Laois on May 22nd by scoring a slender win over Cavan at the grand opening of Loch Gowna’s new state of the art clubrooms and training complex on the May Bank Holiday Monday, writes Liam Cosgrove.
Senior Challenge - Longford 2-9, Cavan 3-5
Two goals either side of half-time from Brian Kavanagh helped Glenn Ryan’s side to build up some much needed momentum ahead of the midlanders championship bow at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise on Sunday week.
The Kilmacud Crokes clubman didn’t take long to breach Cavan’s new look rearguard, pouncing on a mix up in the Breffni Blues defence to slam home from 12 yards in the 14th minute.
That was after Cavan had opened up a two point lead through Gareth Smith and Cian Mackey. Enjoying the luxury of a strong breeze, Cavan levelled matters soon after as Gowna’s Gerald Pearson slipped a couple of challenges to fist the ball over the bar.
Paul Barden, fresh from his side’s Division Four league success over Roscommon in Croke Park, restored parity with a sublime score midway through the first half.
Two quick fire frees dispatched by Kavanagh edged Longford into the lead once more before Cavan’s John McCuthcheon rattled the back of the visitors net following a slick move involving Gareth Smith, Keith Fannin and Gerald Pearson.
Like most exhibition matches, managers Glenn Ryan and Cavan’s joint management duo of Terry Hyland and Val Andrews opted to give a number of squad players some timely match practice.
And it was perhaps the return to the fold of Dromard dangerman Francis McGee that will have no doubt pleased Ryan and his selectors the most.
The diminutive corner-forward was lively and energetic throughout. His well taken effort just after half-time to level the scores at 1-4 apiece gave supporters just a brief glimpse of why he is one of the county’s most prolific forwards.
The changeover also gave Longford the added bonus of a distinct wind advantage. Five minutes into the second half, Brian Kavanagh evaded the attentions of his marker, James McEnroe to fire past Cavan goalkeeper James Reilly for his second goal.
Further scores from McGee as well as three unanswered points from the boot of Kavanagh effectively sealed a well deserved victory for Longford.
Two late goals from substitute Stephen Jordan closed the gap to just one point as the game entered its final stages. It was, however, too little too late as Longford emerged victorious by the slenderest of margins and the neighbouring counties will clash again in Division Three of the National Football League next season.
CAVAN: Darren Murphy; Dane O’Dowd, Thomas Corr, Patrick Carroll; Dermot Sheridan, Sean McCormack, Damien O’Reilly; David Givney, John McCuthcheon (1-0); Keith Fannin (0-1), Gareth Smith (0-2, one free), Gerald Pearson (0-1); Brendan Fitzpatrick, Eugene Keating, Cian Mackey (0-1, free).
Subs used:- Michael Lyng for G Smith (40 mins); Seanie Johnston for G Pearson (42 mins); Stephen Jordan (2-0) for K Fannin (42 mins); Ray Cullivan for B Fitzpatrick (49 mins); Martin Cahill for D Sheridan (49 mins); Anton Reilly for C Mackey (50 mins); Ronan Bannon for D Murphy (51 mins).
LONGFORD: Damien Sheridan (Dromard); Gerard Farrell (Ardagh), Michael Victory (Mostrim), Declan Reilly (Colmcille); Peter Foy (Cashel), Shane Mulligan (Mullinalaghta), Noel Farrell (Colmcille); Bernard McElvaney (Ballymore), John O’Shea (Carrickedmond); Niall Mulligan (Longford Slashers, 0-1), Paddy Dowd (Clonguish), Paul Barden (Clonguish, 0-1); Francis McGee (Dromard, 0-2, one free), Brian Kavanagh (Kilmacud Crokes, 2-5, two frees), Kevin Mulligan (Mullinalaghta).
Subs used:- Colm P Smith (Abbeylara) for S Mulligan (35 mins); Donal McElligott (Mullinalaghta) for P Barden (35 mins); James Noonan (Fr. Manning Gaels) for D McElligott (45 mins); James McKenna (Sean Connolly’s) for D Sheridan (49 mins); Martin Brady (Sean Connolly’s) for P Dowd (63 mins); Sean McCormack (Killoe) for B Kavanagh (63 mins).