Months of frustration for the Longford senior footballers was finally lifted at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday evening last when they ended a demoralising losing streak stretching back to the O’Byrne Cup in January.
Glenn Ryan’s side produced a highly charged display in a determined bid to redeem themselves in the aftermath of the dismal defeat against Wicklow in the Leinster Championship five weeks ago and they played some fine football in scoring a most emphatic win over Limerick in Round 1 of the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
While the full-forward-line of Sean McCormack, JJ Matthews and Francis McGee inflicted the bulk of the damage by scoring 2-10 between them – the deadly accurate McCormack firing over a total of eight points (five frees) - one of the most pleasing aspects of the overall performance was the big impact made by senior championship newcomer Barry O’Farrell.
Promising U-21 player O’Farrell figured most prominently alongside the also effective Padraig McCormack and Shane Mulligan in a commanding half-back-line that paved the way for this badly needed win, with corner-backs Dermot Brady and Declan Reilly also much to the fore, and O’Farrell was the architect of the crucial first goal scored by Francis McGee with just three minutes gone on the changeover.
Leading by 0-8 to 0-4 at the break with five of the points (3 frees) coming from Sean McCormack while JJ Matthews (2) and John Keegan also got their names on the scoresheet, Longford made a wonderful start to the second half.
Quick points from McCormack and Paul Barden (a great strike from a tight angle) was followed by the McGee goal with Barry O’Farrell linking up with Barden to create the clear-cut chance and Limerick were dead and buried when they pressed the self destruct button in the 47th minute.
A misdirected free out of defence by Seanie Buckley went straight to JJ Matthews and the Mullinalaghta man raced through unchallenged to fire home the killer second goal for Longford. That left Limerick trailing by 2-11 to 0-6 and their tale of woe was complete when they had two players sent-off. Substitute Michael Reidy received a straight red card in the 59th minute and John Riordan was dismissed for a second booking in the 69th minute.
The other Longford scores in the second half came from Sean McCormack (two frees) along with a fine brace of points (play) from substitute Niall Mulligan while on target for Limerick who flopped completely were Eoghan O’Connor (3), Seanie Buckley (3), Ger Collins, Ian Corbett and substitute Derry O’Connor.
LONGFORD: Damien Sheridan (Dromard); Dermot Brady (Longford Slashers), Barry Gilleran (Longford Slashers), Declan Reilly (Colmcille); Barry O’Farrell (Carrickedmond), Padraig McCormack (Killoe), Shane Mulligan (Mullinalaghta); John Keegan (Mullinalaghta, 0-1), Michael Brady (Longford Slashers); Bernard McElvaney (Ballymore), Paul Barden (Clonguish, 0-1), Peter Foy (Longford Slashers); Francis McGee (Dromard, 1-0), Sean McCormack (Killoe, 0-8, five frees), JJ Matthews (Mullinalaghta, 1-2).
Subs:- Niall Mulligan (Longford Slashers, 0-2) for P Foy (49 mins); Colm P Smyth (Abbeylara) for P Barden (61 mins); Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon) for J Keegan (64 mins); Aidan Rowan (Cashel) for F McGee (66 mins); Shane Doyle (Kenagh) for B McElvaney (66 mins).
LIMERICK: Brian Scanlon; Andrew Lane, Johnny McCarthy, Mark O’Riordan; Stephen Lavin, Paudie Browne, Pa Ranahan; Bobby O’Brien, John Galvin; John Riordan, Thomas Lee, Ian Corbett (0-1); Ger Collins (0-1), Seanie Buckley (0-3, one free), Eoghan O’Connor (0-3, one free).
Subs:- Derry O’Connor (0-1, free) for T Lee (half-time); Stephen Lucey for B O’Brien (42 mins); Michael Reidy for I Corbett (45 mins); Seamus O’Carroll for G Collins (49 mins); Cian Coady for A Lane (66 mins). Referee: David Gough (Meath).