Longford made it two wins in as many weeks as they swept aside Cavan in most emphatic fashion in the National Hurling League Division 4 game at a blustery Pearse Park on Sunday last.
NATIONAL HURLING LEAGUE - LONGFORD 6-23, CAVAN 1-1
Eoin Donnellan will undoubtedly take much of the plaudits by way of a 17 point personal haul, but the game is sure to be remembered for the way in which five players (four from Cavan) were given their marching orders by Limerick referee Jason O’Mahoney.
In a contest largely played with all the competitive gusto any diehard hurling fan would come to expect from two neighbouring counties, it did little nonetheless to hide the glaring reality that these were two teams desperately short on quality playing for little more than sporting pride at the foot of Division 4.
That said, quite how the division’s bottom team, Cavan ended the game with just 11 men was and probably still remains a mystery to manager PJ Martin and those who greeted the final whistle last Sunday with more than a hint of mild indignation.
None of that will of course be of any concern to opposite number Tom Lynam who saw his side build on their fine win over Leitrim seven days previously with another measured, if unspectacular performance this time in front of their own fans.
A Jamie Rosney free for Cavan apart, it was largely one way traffic throughout much of the opening 35 minutes. Eoin Donnellan racked up nine first half points to add to a well taken goal by corner forward Karl Murray in the 16th minute to leave Longford 1-9 to 0-1 up at the break.
The half time interval, however, failed to stem the Longford tide as Donnellan and company looked to press home their dominance and in so doing bolster their sides score difference.
Having shipped 15 goals and 65 points in their three previous outings, Cavan’s hopes of keeping that statistic down effectively ended when Diarmuid O’Reilly was shown a second yellow card eight minutes into the second half.
Ten minutes later, Anthony Baxter made a similar departure, moments after John Newman struck arguably the score of the match following neat build up play from man of the match Donnellan and Michael Morrissey.
The floodgates, in truth, didn’t take long to open as Longford notched four goals in the space of six second half minutes. John Minnock was first to oblige while Patrick Cullen and Morrissey did likewise moments later. The fourth was subsequently awarded to Minnock by those in the Longford dugout after a long puck downfield by keeper Eanna Daly eluded everyone before squirming past a helpless Mark Curry in the Cavan goal.
Curry’s and Cavan’s day got even worse five minutes from time as half-back Peter McKiernan received a second yellow card.
With Cavan crestfallen, Minnock smashed home his hat-trick and Longford’s sixth goal two minutes from the end. The one blot on the copybook for the hosts was the dismissal of John O’Brien along with Cavan’s Brendan Devine in injury time for what appeared to be an off the ball altercation.
Despite being somewhat flattered by his side’s 37 point winning margin, Tom Lynam and his management team will no doubt be hoping to carry some of that form into Sunday week’s (March 27) encounter when Longford face table toppers Tyrone in Omagh.
LONGFORD: Eanna Daly; John O’Brien, Sean Browne, Ciaran Finnucane; Rory Donnellan (0-1), Fergal Daly, James Devine; Anthony Corcoran, Brendan Stakem; Eoin Donnellan (0-17, 13 frees), Michael Morrissey (1-2), John Newman (0-1); Patrick Cullen (1-0), John Minnock (3-1), Karl Murray (1-0).
Subs: Shane Ward (0-1) for B Stakem (46 mins), Jamie Carroll for C Finnucane (46 mins).
CAVAN: Mark Curry; Pauric McGuigan, Joe Laverty, Michael Fay; Peter McKiernan, Brendan Devine, Diarmuid O’Reilly; Anthony Baxter, Kevin O’Reilly; Micky O’Connell, Jamie Rosney (0-1, free), Kieran McKiernan; Michael Carr, Mark McEntee, Adam Mulcahy.
Subs: Martin Donaghy (1-0) for Kieran McKiernan (40 mins), Conor Drum for M McEntee (49 mins).
Referee: Jason O’Mahoney (Limerick).