Inspired by a decisive lightning start that left them leading by 1-3 to 0-1 with ten minutes gone on the clock, Longford Slashers showed a lot of spirit to catch out the title favourites Killoe in the Senior Football Championship Round 2 clash at Maguire Park, Ballinalee on Sunday last.
The pressure was firmly on Denis Connerton’s side in the aftermath of the dreadful display in the defeat by Mullinalaghta the previous week but they certainly made amends in producing a high level of braveheart commitment all over the pitch to spring a surprise.
In adapting better to the difficult wet conditions, Slashers started regular midfielder Michael Brady in the role of the target man at full-forward and he caused a lot of problems for the Emmet Og defence.
Brady created the goal for Trevor Clendenning in the 3rd minute, with Paul Kelly providing the perfect final pass, while the early points came from Peter Foy, Colin Smith (free) and Clendenning.
Sean McCormack replied for Killoe, who were very slow to settle, and while they gradually came a lot more into the game they ended up trailing by 1-5 to 0-4 at the break.
The other three Emmet Og points in the first half came from Mark Hughes (who returned from a spell in New York), McCormack (free) and Denis McGoldrick (free) while Slashers added to their tally with a brace of scores from Colin Smith (free and play), the latter when a goal was on.
Both sides were guilty of some poor finishing in the first half, including clear-cut goal chances, and after a point apiece were exchanged between Colin Smith (free) and Killoe defender Shane Dowd in the opening minutes of the second half, Peter Foy then squandered a glorious opportunity.
Foy shot wide from a few yards out and a second Slashers goal at that stage would have left Killoe in serious trouble. But the county champions gradually got their act together to close the gap with three points in a row through Michael Quinn, Eugene Clarke and Larry Moran.
During that dominant spell Quinn was just off target with a cracking goal attempt and Slashers were hanging on by the minimum of margins, 1-6 to 0-8.
But the pressure was eased when Colin Smith converted a free, only for Michael Quinn to land another point for Emmet Og who looked like avoiding defeat at this stage.
Back came Slashers with a vital point from Paul Kelly in the 54th minute and moments later Martin Tarmey had a goal attempt well saved by the Killoe keeper Cillian Burns.
Tense and exciting stuff, to say the least, and while Michael Quinn got his third score when landing a well struck ‘45’ in the 58th minute Emmet Og kicked a few costly wides in their frantic efforts to level matters.
And the hopes of Declan Rowley’s side were eventually dashed when Slashers substitute Niall Kelly planted the breaking ball into the back of the Killoe net in the third minute of stoppage time, after Cillian Burns had saved a Trevor Clendenning goal attempt. There was still time for a player from either side to be sent-off, Larry Moran (Killoe) and Marc Diffley (Slashers) who received second yellow cards, and while Emmet Og substitute Ciaran Donohoe fired over a point in the sixth minute of stoppage time the final whistle sounded seconds later.
Looking at the bigger picture, Killoe are still the leading contenders for Connolly Cup glory and this wake up call was probably no harm as they prepare to take on already qualified Dromard in the next round.
LONGFORD SLASHERS: Colm Farrell; Peter Brady, Barry Gilleran, Gareth Ghee; Peter Foy (0-1), Dermot Brady, Sean Clarke; Niall Mulligan, Trevor Clendenning (1-1); Martin Tarmey, Paul Kelly (0-1), Marc Diffley; Ruairi Clarke, Michael Brady, Colin Smith (0-5, four frees).
Subs:- Darren Flaherty for R Clarke (45 mins); Niall Kelly (1-0) for M Tarmey (56 mins); Conor Clarke for P Kelly (fifth minute of stoppage time).
KILLOE EMMET OG: Cillian Burns; Liam Hughes, Ronan Keogh, Cian Farrelly; Shane Dowd (0-1), Padraig McCormack, Shane Clarke; Paddy Thompson, Simon Kiernan; Paddy Kiernan, Denis McGoldrick (0-1, free), Ronan McGoldrick; Larry Moran (0-1), Sean McCormack (0-2, one free), Michael Quinn (0-3, one ‘45).
Subs:- Mark Hughes (0-1) for R McGoldrick (16 mins); Eugene Clarke (0-1) for S Kiernan (19 mins); Daniel Keogh for R Keogh (half-time); Joe McCormack for S Clarke (35 mins); Ciaran Donohoe (0-1) for P Kiernan (two minutes into stopppage time).
Referee: Patrick Maguire (St Mary’s Granard).