Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Championship Qualifier
Meath . . . . . . . 1-17 Longford . . . . . . . 2-10
Padraic O’Brien reporting from Pairc Tailteann, Navan
While just four points separated the sides when the final whistle was eventually blown in a high scoring Leinster Minor Football Championship Qualifier at Pairc Tailteann in Navan on Wednesday evening, no excuses can be made for Longford’s early exit as they were well beaten by a superior Meath outfit who held a commanding ten-point lead (1-14 to 0-7) with just nine minutes of normal time remaining before the gap was closed with goals from Aidan McElligott and David McGivney, the latter on target deep into stoppage time.
Longford trailed by 1-8 to 0-4 at the break and were fortunate not to be even further behind as Meath squandered a couple of other goal chances, both of which fell to the always dangerous corner-forward James Wallace. The power and pace of the Meath attack was just too much for the Longford defence, who were simply not good enough to deal with this lethal threat, and the visitors had to wait until the 14th minute for their opening score of the game – a free converted by Martin Cassidy.
Showing four changes from the team that started in the disappointing defeat by Laois in the first round proper a couple of weeks earlier, Longford managed just three more scores before the break with Cassidy (free), Rian Brady and David McGivney on target and were always fighting a losing battle from the moment Darragh McGovern fired home a cracking goal for Meath in the 22nd minute – the end result of a brilliant move.
Operating the target man role at full-forward for most of the game after starting at centrefield, McElligott got the green light to line-out against Meath after his straight red card against Laois was rescinded on a technicality and he got a badly needed goal for Longford in the 52nd minute of the qualifier in Navan. This brief recovery also yielded fine scores from Liam Sullivan and wing back Adrian Duffy to close the gap to five points.
But Meath showed good character to regain the upper hand and three more points sealed a well deserved win for the royal county.
After David McGivney converted a close range free in the 58th minute, Longford battled it out to the bitter end and their perseverance was eventually rewarded when McGivney, with virtually the last kick of the game, fired home a consolation goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time to give the final scoreline a more respectable look.
LONGFORD: Shane Fitzpatrick (Killoe Og); Dessie Reynolds (Clonbroney), Andrew Farrell (Southern Gaels), Shane Rogers (Longford Slashers); Adrian Duffy (Longford Slashers, 0-1), Jason Earley (Northern Gaels), Damien Bennett (Killoe Og); David McGivney (Northern Gaels, 1-2, one point from free), Aidan McElligott (Northern Gaels, 1-0); Liam Sullivan (Granard/Ballymore, 0-1), Paddy Kiernan (Killoe Og, 0-1), Mattie Gorman (Granard/Ballymore); Martin Cassidy (St. Vincent’s, 0-2, frees), Larry Moran (Killoe Og), Rian Brady (Northern Gaels, 0-3, two frees).
Subs:- Ronan Sweeney (Clonguish Og) for A Farrell (15 mins); Shane Kenny (Western Gaels) for J Earley (16 mins); Nigel Rabbitte (Northern Gaels) for M Cassidy (half-time); Darragh Gilna (Killoe Og) for S Rogers (35 mins); Eoin Sorohan (Western Gaels) for R Sweeney (injured, 49 mins).
Read Padraic O’Brien’s full report in the next edition of the Longford Leader, on sale on Wednesday