In the end the result didn’t mean anything because this challenge game at the official opening of the upgraded grounds at Keenan Park, Ardagh on Sunday evening last was about giving players an opportunity to impress with Longford manager Glenn Ryan making plenty of changes from the side that defeated Wexford in the National League Division 3 Final the previous week.
Although Longford put in a decent performance only a few players stood-out and they were regulars in the side; Donal McElligott, James McGivney and Brian Kavanagh were the best performers while newcomer Padraig Gill impressed when he came on at half-time.
Leitrim had former Longford player Enda Williams in their starting 15. They made the perfect start to the game and their forwards were on fire throughout. In the 4th minute they opened the scoring when Emlyn Mulligan converted a penalty after James Glancy was fouled.
The excellent Ray Cox fired over his first point in the 7th minute before Glancy stretched the lead to five points in the 10th minute. Longford’s first score came seconds later when McGivney landed an excellent point.
Leitrim extended their lead to seven points in the 19th minute with two points from Mulligan (one free) and one from Glancy. Longford lost a lot of ball around midfield and that was punished by the visitors.
Longford then hit a purple patch, starting in the 23rd minute and they had cut the deficit to two points by the 32nd minute. Brian Kavanagh got their second point with a fantastic effort in the 23rd minute and the full-forward then set-up Francie McGee one minute later before he pointed a free. Robbie Smyth fired over a free in the 30th minute and then Martin Brady found range with a nice point after a great catch by Donal McElligott.
Ray Cox was on target again one minute later to put a goal between the sides going in at the break. Longford made a good start to the second half with a free from Kavanagh but Leitrim began to get on top again. In the 35th minute Paddy McGowan pointed and then minutes later Cox found the back of the net following a nice ball in from Emlyn Mulligan.
Frees were then exchanged between McGee and Mulligan before Longford got a goal; James McGivney did all the hard work and struck a powerful shot that the Leitrim keeper couldn’t hold onto it and while the ball looked over the line Padraig Gill made sure to finish it. Noel Farrell then followed up with a good point in the 54th minute.
But Leitrim started to take a grip of the game again and two Emlyn Mulligan points (one free) and a fine score from Ray Cox put six between the sides by the 58th minute. Francis McGee and Brian Kavanagh replied for Longford but they couldn’t get back into the game. Paddy McGowan got his second point in the 65th minute before Kevin Diffley got Longford’s final point two minutes later.
Ray Cox got the final score of the game just before the end to give Leitrim a five point win in the finish and Longford now turn their attention to the game that really matters; the Leinster Championship first round clash against Laois at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday week, May 20th.
LONGFORD: Damien Sheridan (Dromard); Colm P Smyth (Abbeylara), Fergal Battrim (Abbeylara), Marty Mulvey (Carrickedmond); Peter Foy (Cashel), Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon, 0-1), Noel Farrell (Colmcille, 0-1), Bernard McElvaney (Ballymore), Martin Brady (Sean Connolly’s, 0-1); James McGivney (Mullinalaghta, 1-1), Donal McElligott (Mullinalaghta), Niall Mulligan (Longford Slashers); Robbie Smyth (Abbeylara, 0-1, free), Brian Kavanagh (Kilmacud Crokes, 0-4, 2 frees), Francis McGee (Dromard, 0-3, 2 frees).
Subs used:- Paddy Collum (Fr. Manning Gaels) for D Sheridan and Padraic Gill (Fr. Manning Gaels) for N Mulligan (half-time).
LEITRIM: Gary Loughlin; Alan Wynne, Fabian McMorrow, Gavin Reynolds; Colm Clarke, Enda Williams, Wayne McKeon; Shane Moran, Darren Sweeney; Colin Ryan, Emlyn Mulligan (1-5, 3 frees), Paddy McGowan (0-2); Adrian Croal, James Glancy (0-2), Ray Cox (1-5)
Subs used:- Declan Gilhooley for C Ryan (51 mins); Philip Farrelly for E Williams (injured, 53 mins).
Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).