Longford, the holders of the Lory Meagher Cup, made their exit from this year’s All-Ireland Senior ‘D’ Hurling Championship but ran a strongly fancied South Down side close in the quarter-final at Fontenoy Park, Liatroim on Saturday last.
ALL-IRELAND SENIOR D HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER FINAL - South Down 2-14, Longford 1-14
After losing the services of a number of key players from last year’s successful team, most notably Gareth Ghee, this was always going to prove a difficult game at the northern venue and South Down produced a brilliant opening twenty minutes to lay the foundations for their eventual victory.
But only three points separated the sides at the final whistle and Longford were left to rue a missed penalty in the closing stages of the game while they were also guilty of shooting 11 wides when playing against the strong wind in the first half.
South Down started quickly with a point inside the opening minute from Liam Morgan and keeping up the pressure they had goals from Eoin McGuinness in the 2nd and 10th minutes. It was all South Down at this stage with Eoin Donnelly and Liam Morgan dominating mid field.
The brilliant Morgan, who scored ten of his side’s points and Malachy Magee, lobbed over two points each as South Down led by 2-5 to 0-1 after twenty minutes. The Longford point was scored from a free by Eoin Donnellan.
Longford staged a mini revival before half-time with a goal from Paddy Cullen and three points from Eoin Donnellan while half -back Rory Donnellan and Karl Murray also added points. South Down replied with two Liam Morgan points to lead by 2-7 to 1-6 at half time.
With rain falling heavily the standard dropped in the second half. Liam Morgan kept South Down well ahead from frees but in the final quarter Longford found their form. Seamus Hannon and Eoin Donnellan with three points each left just two between the sides.
South Down again increased their lead with three points from Liam Morgan before Longford were awarded a penalty. Eoin Donnellan’s effort was deflected over the bar as South Down held out for victory to book a place in the semi-final of the Lory Meagher Cup.
Best for the gallant losers Longford were defenders Rory Donnellan and Sean Browne; midfielder Seamus Hannon and centre-half-forward Eoin Donnellan, the chief marksman with eight points to his credit.
SOUTH DOWN: D. Kearns; C. Teague, J. McGrath, A. Brown; A. McGuinness, M. McCartan, G. Courtney; E. Donnelly (0-1), L. Morgan (0-10, 7 frees); M. Cunningham, E. Trainor, C. Beattie; P. McAleenan, E. McGuinness (2-0), M. Magee (0-3).
Subs: - P. Sheehan for C. Beattie (40 mins); N. Burns for P. McAleenan (42 mins); J. O’Kane for M. Cunningham (50 mins); A. Gough for N. Burns (68 mins); K. Fegan for E. Donnelly (70 mins).
LONGFORD: Eanna Daly; Ciaran Finnucane, Sean Browne, John O’Brien; Rory Donnellan (0-1), Benny Stakem, Stephen Lynam; Seamus Hannon (0-3), Fergal Daly; Karl Murray (0-1), Eoin Donnellan (0-8), John Newman; Joe O’Brien, John Minnock (0-1), Paddy Cullen (1-0).
Subs:- Eoin Kavanagh for S Lynam (52 mins); James Devine for K Murray (66 mins).
Referee: R. Matthews (Antrim).