Ten points clear in the early stages of the second half, the Longford U-16s managed to withstand a determined comeback by Westmeath in the Fr. Manning Cup Round 1 game at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Thursday evening last.
Under the management team of Liam Keenan and Gerry Lynn, Longford got off to a great start with early goals from Shane Thompson and the impressive Thomas McGann, the latter always a threat at full-forward, and ended up in a commanding 3-2 to 0-3 lead at the break.
The third goal in the 28th minute was a cracking strike from Joe Kelly and it could have been even worse for Westmeath as Ruairi Hawkins hit the crossbar on the stroke of half-time.
The Longford points in the first half came from Hawkins and McGann (free) and further scores from McGann (free) and Ronan Healy (free) early on the changeover appeared to have put the issue beyond all doubt.
However, Westmeath were thrown a lifeline when their full-forward Troy Maher was gifted a goal in the 36th minute and the gap was gradually closed to just the minimum of margins (3-5 to 1-10) before David McCarthy fired over a couple of crucial points in quick succession for Longford.
With the pressure eased as a result, the home county finished strongly to fire over four more points - a fine brace from the prominent Ronan Healy with chief marksman Thomas McGann (free) and Ruairi Hawkins also on target. McGann (with a total of 1-4) also landed a well struck point from play midway through the second half.
LONGFORD: Conor Gallagher (Grattans); Mark Lyons (Rathcline), Enda Farrell (Carrick Sarsfields), James Bracken (Killoe); Michael Cahill (Carrick Sarsfields), Mark McCormack (Ballymahon/Forgney), Peter Lynn (Grattans); Fergal Lynch (Northern Gaels), Ronan Healy (Cashel, 0-3, one free); Ruairi Harkins (Colmcille), Joe Kelly (Ballymahon/Forgney, 1-0), Ruairi Hawkins (Colmcille, 0-2); Shane Thompson (Killoe, 1-0), Thomas McGann (Kenagh, 1-4, three frees), David McCarthy (Killoe, 0-2).
Subs:- Cillian Lee (Killashee) for R Harkins (53 mins); Thomas Doyle (Wolfe Tones, Mostrim) for F Lynch (58 mins); Aaron McGee (St. Vincent’s, Drumlish) for M Cahill (60 mins).
WESTMEATH: Matthew Rowden; Francis Duffy, Eoin Nally, Jamie Rooney; Plunkett Maxwell, Colin Heffernan, Conor McCrosson; Emmet Nally (0-2), Daniel Reid; Adam Loughlin, Daire Hynes, Maitiu Scully; Cathal Mannion (0-4, all frees), Troy Maher (1-1), Dylan Carroll (0-4, three frees).
Subs:- Ryan Norris for F Duffy (injured, 26 mins); Ruairi Aspell for C McCrosson (36 mins); James Murphy for M Scully (52 mins); Sean Pettit for Eoin Nally (58 mins).
Referee: Brendan Sammon (Leitrim).