Deniese O’Flaherty reporting from McGann Park, Kenagh
The Longford U-21s footballers were ruthless as they comprehensively defeated Wicklow in Kenagh on Saturday last to book their place in the Hastings Cup Final against neighbouring rivals Cavan for the second year in succession.
It’s hard to determine whether Longford were outstanding or Wicklow were just very poor; it was probably a bit of both. From 1 to 15 and the substitutes who came on Longford were on top all over the pitch in this demolition job. They produced a complete performance and played some fine football in the process of their easy win.
Longford made a fantastic start to the game and stormed into a nine point lead within the opening 12 minutes. A great point from James McGivney in the 2nd minute was followed by a free from Mark Hughes before McGivney got the first goal. Hughes, Robbie Smyth and Darren Gallagher played their part in the score as the Mullinalaghta man finished the ball to the net.
Gallagher and Hughes were involved in Longford’s second goal which Shane Clarke scored in the 9th minute and in the 12th minute Smyth got his first point, scoring from a tight angle.
Smyth could have grabbed another goal for Longford two minutes later after receiving a pass from McGivney but Wicklow keeper Paul Miley got a touch to the powerful shot to push the ball out for a ’45.
After playing second fiddle for the opening quarter Wicklow finally got off the mark in the 16th minute; Brendan McCrea with the point. But Longford hit back with three points in a row through Daniel Mimnagh, Mark Hughes and Robbie Smyth – two frees.
In first half stoppage time Danny Wood fired over a free to get Wicklow’s second point of the game but they faced a real uphill battle on the changeover as they trailed by 10 points at the break, 2-6 to 0-2.
Longford made a good start to the second half when Darren Gallagher fired over a nice point in the 33rd minute and four minutes later they got their third goal; another good move finished by Barry McKeon.
Mark Hughes followed up with a beautiful point to stretch the lead to 15 points. With such a commanding advantage the Longford management decided to introduce a number of substitutes.
James McGivney got his second point in the 46th minute and after being totally outplayed Wicklow added two more points to their tally through Ross O’Brien and Wood (free).
But Longford hit back in superb fashion; substitute Liam Connerton getting on the scoresheet with a point and he then got a goal in the space of two minutes. In the end it was all too easy for Eugene McCormack’s charges. Sterner opposition lies ahead, starting with the eagerly awaited Hastings Cup final against Cavan at the Ardagh grounds on Saturday next, but Longford will be buoyed up by two great wins and impressive performances against Roscommon and Wicklow.
LONGFORD: Gareth Higgins (Carrickedmond); Ronan Keogh (Killoe Young Emmets), Barry O’Farrell (Carrickedmond), Cian Farrelly (Killoe Young Emmets); Darren Farrelly (Fr. Manning Gaels), Padraig McCormack (Killoe Young Emmets), Diarmuid Cooney (Fr. Manning Gaels); Darren Gallagher (Granard St. Mary’s, 0-1), Dylan Quinn (Fr. Manning Gaels); Daniel Mimnagh (Killoe Young Emmets, 0-1), Barry McKeon (Colmcille, 1-0), Shane Clarke (Killoe Young Emmets, 1-0); Robbie Smyth (Abbeylara, 0-2, one free), Mark Hughes (Killoe Young Emmets, 0-3, two frees), James McGivney (Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s, 1-2).
Subs: Brian Walsh (Longford Slashers) for S Clarke (half-time); Eoin Keane (Clonguish) for R Smyth (38 mins); Liam Connerton (Rathcline, 1-1) for B McKeon (43 mins); Charlie Martin (Granard St. Mary’s) for B O’Farrell (40 mins), Shane Donoghue (Rathcline) for P McCormack (47 mins).
WICKLOW: Paul Miley; Jamie Snell, John Manley, Jimmy Kelly; Michael Mangan, Ross O’Brien (0-1), Martin O’Brien; Kevin Dempsey, Shane Hogan; Danny Wood (0-2, frees), Paddy Crowley, Theo Smith; Joey Doyle, Brendan McCrea (0-2, one free), Paddy O’Rourke.
Referee: Declan Hunt (Roscommon).