Longford hurlers earned a deserved draw with neighbours Leitrim in Ballinamore on Sunday last when the game’s top scorer Eoin Donnellan (with a total of 0-13) fired over a free deep into stoppage time and a share of the spoils was a fair result to this entertaining and evenly matched National League Division 3B showdown.
Longford dominated in the opening seven minutes and went 0–4 up before Leitrim opened their account with a point. But aided by a Zak Moradi 24th minute goal Leitrim got on top to claim a 1–2 interval lead. Playing with wind in the second half a battling Longford shaded the exchanges to finish in a stalemate situation at the end.
Longford got off to a flying start in the opening seven minutes with Eoin Donnellan putting over a free, a ‘65’ and a point from play while Karl Murray also shot over the bar. After a sluggish start Leitrim got their account opened when Clement Cunniffe whipped over a ‘65’ in the 11th minute. But Longford hit back to stretch their lead over the next three minutes with two further Eoin Donnellan frees.
But then Leitrim turned the game around to lead by four points on the 28 minute mark after they hit an unanswered 1–6. In this dominant spell Zak Moradi shot 1–1 for Leitrim while Clement Cunniffe put over a ‘65’ as well as two frees with Sean Fox and Kevin McGrath adding a point each.
Longford, who hadn’t scored for 16 minutes, replied with a 30th minute point from an Eoin Donnellan ‘65’. Clement Cunniffe replied three minutes later with a Leitrim point from play.
Before the end of the half Brendan Stakem for Longford from play and Cunniffe for Leitrim from a free traded points which left the home side ahead at the break by 1–9 to 0– 7.
Just four minutes of the second half had elapsed and Leitrim’s lead was down to 0–3 after Longford’s Eoin Donnellan hit the target from a free and a ’65.’ But Clement Cunniffe replied for Leitrim when he tapped over a 40th minute free in reply.
Eoin Donnellan closed the gap on Leitrim to three points again three minutes later with a converted free. Longford reduced the margin between the sides to two points by the 47th minute after Eoin Donnellan (free) and John Newman (play) hit a point each that answered a free conversion by Leitrim’s Clement Cunniffe.
But Cunniffe stretched the Leitrim advantage to 0–3 again a minute later with another accurately struck free. Meanwhile a Longford surge closed the gap on Leitrim to the minimum by the 55th minute thanks to a point apiece by Eoin Donnellan (free) and John Newman (play).
However seven minutes later Clement Cunniffe replied with a point from another free, which was to be his side’s last score in the game. Following that Longford dug deep in the last eight minutes and shot two points to force a draw. Eoin Donnellan closed the gap with a 64th minute free and did the same again at the death to force a stalemate situation.
LEITRIM: James Glancy; Thomas Clancy, Vincent McDermott, Seamus McTiernan; Kevin O’Connor, Micheal Poniard, Paddy Clancy; Gary McGovern, Kevin McGrath 0–1; Sean Fox 0–1, Dave McGovern, Zak Moradi 1-1; Paul McKiernan, Morgan Quinn, Clement Cunniffe 0-10 (9 frees).
Sub:- Micheal Dolan for D. McGovern (26 mins).
LONGFORD: Eanna Daly; Rory Breslin, John O’Brien, Brendan Stakem; Keelan Cox, Tommy Roche, Conor Egan; Ciaran Finucane, Paul Barden Jnr; Eoin Donnellan 0–13 (12 frees), Karl Murray (0-1), Declan Tanner; Michael Farrell, John Newman 0–2, Johnny Casey.
Subs:- Gerard Moore for K Cox (47 mins); Diarmuid Corcoran for J Casey (53 mins).
Referee: James Clarke (Cavan).