Allianz National Hurling League Division 3B Final
Warwickshire . . . . 1-15 Longford . . . . 2-10
While Longford eventually lost out to Warwickshire by the narrow margin of two points in the National Hurling League Division 3B Final at the Ratoath grounds, Co Meath on Saturday, their hopes suffered a severe double setback when they had two players sent-off.
First to go was Cathal Mullane in the closing stages of the first half, with Longford leading by 1-5 to 0-6 thanks to a goal from a penalty converted by Eoin Donnellan in the 28th minute following a foul on John Mulhern.
Despite the dismissal of Mullane in what appeared to be a very harsh decision by poor Kilkenny referee Gavin Quilty, Longford added another couple of scores to their tally to lead by 1-7 to 0-7 at the break with Cian Kavanagh, Donnellan (2), Mullane and Martin Coyle (3) accounting for the first half points.
But Warwickshire made a storming start to the second half to register 1-2 on the trot, the goal coming from Colm McBride in the 39th minute, and the Exiles managed to remain in front from there until the final whistle to take the Division 3B title and also clinch promotion to Division 3A next season.
Longford were dealt another bad blow when Paddy Corcoran was sent-off in the 46th minute and with 13 players on the pitch it was always going to be a real uphill battle thereafter, although they were given a glimmer of hope with a goal from Bart Hanley very late in the game after Warwickshire had established a comfortable five points lead.
But time ran out for the gallant losers, whose three second half points came from Eoin Donnellan (two frees and a ‘65), and it was bitter disappointment for Longford manager Ray Gavin whose team sorely missed the absence of the injured Joe O’Brien.
The attention for the county hurlers now turns to the Nicky Rackard Cup and a tough fixture away to Monaghan in the opening round in early May.
LONGFORD team that started v Warwickshire: Dara Duggan; Gerard Moore, Brendan Stakem, Paddy Corcoran; Connaire Flanagan, Bart Hanley (1-0), Karl Murray; Johnny Casey, Paul Barden jnr; Cathal Mullane (0-1), Martin Coyle (0-3), Luke Kelly; Cian Kavanagh (0-1), John Mulhern, Eoin Donnellan (1-5).