Longford hurlers score vital victory

Longford hurlers score vital victory
Longford got their Lory Meagher Cup championship campaign off to a winning start when they had three points to spare against neighbours Leitrim in Pairc Sean, Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday last.

Longford got their Lory Meagher Cup championship campaign off to a winning start when they had three points to spare against neighbours Leitrim in Pairc Sean, Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday last.

Eoin Donnellan was very much the main man for Longford, scoring 10 of their 12 points. Johnny Casey, who got the other two points, also performed very well while the defence stood firm with centre-half-back Conor Flanagan particularly prominent.

It wasn’t a great performance from Longford but after a dismal league campaign it was important for them to get back to winning ways, especially in their opening Lory Meagher Cup game.

There are sterner tests ahead for Longford with last year’s winners Warwickshire (at Pearse Park on Saturday next) and Fermanagh yet to come but with both games at home, Frank Browne’s side will be hoping to achieve another trip to Croke Park next month.

In a poor first half, points from play were at a premium. Clement Cunniffe got the opening score of the game for Leitrim in the 4th minute, hitting over a long range free.

Eoin Donnellan opened Longford’s account in the 9th minute with a good point from play. The Rathcline man then hit over a fantastic long range free from about 70 yards out to put the visitors in front and he put two between the sides in the 14th minute with a fine point from play.

Frees were then traded between Cunniffe and Donnellan before Padraig O’Donnell cut the gap to one in the 29th minute. Three minutes before the break a free converted by O’Donnell levelled the game, 0-4 to 0-4.

Leitrim’s first point from play came one minute into the second half through Clement Cunniffe to put them in front but Longford replied straight away with a point from Johnny Casey.

In the 38th minute another Eoin Donnellan free edged Longford ahead but five minutes later the game was level again when Padraig O’Donnell scored his third point for Leitrim.

There was nothing between the teams in terms of the scoreline but Longford were the better side with the greater share of the possession. They eventually got a grip on the game and three frees in a row from Eoin Donnellan in the space of four minutes left Longford leading by 0-9 to 0-6 by the 48th minute.

Leitrim broke and after some good build up play they were awarded a free which Clement Cunniffe fired over in the 51st minute. In the 57th minute Longford substitute Kevin Connelly should have done better with a goal chance but his weak effort went wide.

It was back to a one point came in the 58th minute when Padraig O’Donnell fired over another free and two minutes later the same player was on target again to leave Leitrim back on level terms, 0-9 to 0-9.

But Longford’s experience and fitness eventually began to tell. Eoin Donnellan put them ahead again in the 61st minute and Johnny Casey registered his second point in the 68th minute.

Leitrim tried in vain to rescue the situation but were unable to get any more scores and in stoppage time Eoin Donnellan clocked up his 10th point from another free to clinch a vital victory for Longford.

LEITRIM: Morgan Quinn; Michael Dominican, Vincent McDermott, Paul Earley; Michael Poniard, Clement Cunniffe (0-4, 3 frees), Kevin O’Connor; Shane Kiernan, David McGovern; David Poniard, Padraig O’Donnell (0-5, 3 frees), Niall McLoughlin; Fergal Earley, James Glancy, Kevin McGrath.

Subs:- Semaco Mordai for F Earley (45 mins); Colm Moreton for J Glancy (62 mins): Liam Moreton for D Poniard (69 mins).

LONGFORD: Paddy Cullen; Karl Murray, Brendan Stakem, Conor Egan; Rory Donnellan, Conor Flanagan, Paddy Corcoran; Declan Tanner, Martin Coyle; Eoin Donnellan (0-10, 7 frees), Gareth Ghee, Johnny Casey (0-2); Joe O’Brien, John Newman, Cian Kavanagh.

Sub:- Kevin Connelly for C Kavanagh (41 mins).

Referee: John Keane (Galway).