Longford hurlers on course to qualify for league final

A fantastic final 10 minutes of hurling from Longford saw them overturn a four point deficit into a six point winning margin and thus record their first win in Division 3B of the National Hurling League and are on course to reach the final of the competition against Sligo who they meet in the remaining group fixture on Sunday next.

Longford showed battling qualities in their opening game to draw with Leitrim and those same qualities were evident once again at a bitterly cold Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday last.

Credit to Warwickshire they gave Longford a tough game and in Conor Robbins they have a fantastic player and free-taker. But anything Robbins could do Longford’s Eoin Donnellan could do just better. The game was literally a shoot-out between the two free-takers with Donnellan edging it.

It was the team from England who made a great start to the game registering 1-1 in the first three minutes; Robbins fired over the opening score from a free after he was fouled. He then followed that up with a well-taken goal after receiving the ball from Alan Morrissey.

Donnellan got Longford off the mark in the 4th minute from a free. Morrissey replied with a point before Donnellan was on target again. Another Robbins free restored Warwickshire’s four point advantage in the 10th minute but in a five minute spell Longford drew level.

Ciaran Finucane got Longford’s first point from play in the 11th minute, Donnellan’s fine sideline cut found John Newman in the 13th minute and he fired over and then two points from Kevin Connelly levelled matters.

Longford went ahead for the first time in the 19th minute through Donnellan but Robbins fired over a free to level the game again one minute later. That was to be the pattern of the game for the next 10 minutes. Eoin Donnellan put Longford ahead three times in that spell only for Dwane Sheedy and Mick Bermingham and Robbins to level for Warwickshire.

Morrissey then edged Warwickshire ahead in the 30th minute only for Donnellan to draw the game for the sixth time. Robbins gave his side a one point advantage going in at the break when he fired over another free.

In the opening quarter of the second half it was once again a battle between Robbins and Donnellan. The Longford player hitting over two frees with Robbins on target three times to give his side a two point lead in the 50th minute.

Substitute Reamonn McEntee put a goal between the sides one minute later before another Robbins free extended the lead to four points but Longford stuck with them. Another Donnellan free and a lovely goal from Connelly levelled the game again in the 56th minute.

Robbins was on target again in the 58th minute to give Warwickshire the lead again but that was to be their final score as Longford upped their game in a frantic final 10 minutes.

A low drive from Donnellan in the 62nd minute got Longford’s second goal and the game swung in their favour. An excellent free from Donnellan from the middle of the park put three between the sides in the 67th minute.

Longford didn’t let up with the scoring and Declan Tanner got on the scoresheet in the 68th minute with a very good score. Connelly and Newman both registered points just before the end to give Longford a six point win.

LONGFORD: Eanna Daly; Rory Breslin, John O’Brien, Kealan Cox; Karl Murray, Tommy Roche, Conor Egan; Ciaran Finucane (0-1), Paul Barden jnr; Eoin Donnellan (1-11, 10 frees, one ‘65), Kevin Connelly (1-3), Declan Tanner (0-1); Diarmuid Corcoran, John Newman (0-2), Joe O’Brien.

Subs used:- Michael Farrell for C Finucane (40 mins); Luke Kelly for D Corcoran (51 mins); Gerard Moore for K Cox (60 mins); John Gaffney for K Murray (69 mins).

WARWICKSHIRE: Thomas Goulding; Ruairi Wedel, Liam Knocker, Eoin O’Brien; Donncha Kennedy, Conall Maskey, Chris Brough; Shane Lawless, Cormac Behan; Dwane Sheedy (0-1, free), Mick Bermingham (0-1), Conor Robbins (1-10, 10 frees); John O’Shea, Patrick Duggan, Alan Morrissey (0-2).

Subs used:- Reamonn McEntee (0-1) for S Lawless (21 mins); Kevin Hally for E O’Brien and Alan O’Neill for J O’Shea (half-time); Simon Wallace for D Sheedy (43 mins); Des Kelly for M Bermingham (66 mins).

Referee: Gearoid McGrath (Dublin).