Bord na Mona O’Byrne Cup Senior Football Tournament – Group A Round 1
Meath . . . . . . . 1-9 Longford . . . . . 1-7
Fielding just seven members of the team that started against Limerick in the All-Ireland Qualifier defeat last July, manager Glenn Ryan availed of the opportunity to experiment against Meath in the O’Byrne Cup Round 1 game at the Ballymahon grounds on Sunday and the home county, featuring a number of newcomers, ended up losing the opening game of the 2013 season.
A big crowd in the region of 700 gathered at Leo Casey Park and with Meath, under new manager Mick O’Dowd, also in experimental mode the match – played in difficult wet conditions - developed into a rather scrappy encounter. A penalty goal converted by Damien Carroll in the 22nd minute of the first half proved to be the decisive score as the visitors scored a slender win with just two points separating the sides at the final whistle.
It was the powerful presence of the versatile Joe Sheridan at centrefield for Meath that made the difference in the eventual outcome and the royal county ran out deserving winners. Having said that, Longford were guilty of kicking no less than eight wides during the course of the second half and might have avoided defeat but for the poor finishing.
Meath also missed a number of decent scoring chances on the changeover in their inability to pull away despite enjoying a lot of possession and could have been caught in the tight finish.
Glenn Ryan is expected to experiment further in the next O’Byrne Cup group fixture against UCD at the Killoe grounds on Wednesday night (throw-in 7.30pm) and it will probably be the same case against Louth in Drogheda on Sunday next as the build-up continues to the National League Division 2 campaign which starts on Sunday February 3rd away to Wexford.
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum (Fr. Manning Gaels); Peter Foy (Cashel), Barry Gilleran (Longford Slashers), Fergal Battrim (Abbeylara); Colm P Smyth (Abbeylara), Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon), Shane Mulligan (Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s); John Keegan (Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s), Michael Brady (Longford Slashers); Shane Doyle (Kenagh), Aidan Rowan (Cashel), Sean McCormack (Killoe Young Emmets, 0-4, three frees); JJ Matthews (Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s, 0-1), Donal McElligott (Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s, 1-1), Francis McGee (Dromard, 0-1).
Subs:- Bernard McElvaney (Ballymore) for S Doyle (46 mins); Conor Quaine (Legan Sarsfields) for J Keegan (52 mins).
Read the full report in the next edition of the Longford Leader, on sale on Wednesday