Availing of the opportunity to introduce some of their younger players into the senior side, Longford Slashers made a good start to the new season when they scored a comfortable win over Fr Manning Gaels in the Division 1 league clash at Fay Park on Saturday evening last.
Backboned by county seniors Dermot Brady, Barry Gilleran and Peter Foy, along with U-21s Andrew Dalton and Colm Farrell who featured in the Leinster semi-final defeat against Dublin a few days earlier, Slashers proved too strong for a disappointing Gaels outfit.
Covering a lot of ground, Dalton was particularly prominent at midfield in the first half and fired home a well-taken goal in the 8th minute (set up by Martin Nevin) that left the sky-blues leading by 1-6 to 0-5 at the break.
Denis Connerton (back in charge of Slashers for a sixth season) watched his side dominate most of the first half and at one stage they had established a commanding 1-6 to 0-2 lead with the points coming from Trevor Clendenning, Martin Nevin, Mark Smith (two frees), Andrew Dalton and Peter Foy.
David Collum and Padraig Gill replied for Fr Manning Gaels, who produced a strong finish to the first half that yielded further points from Gill, Collum and Diarmuid Cooney - all excellent efforts.
But Slashers were not about to let victory slip from their grasp and consolidated their tight grip on the game with Mark Smith converting a couple of frees, the second for a foul on Trevor Clendenning who broke through the opposing defence.
A very good point from Diarmuid Cooney gave the Gaels a glimmer of hope but Slashers struck the killer blow in the 45th minute when Martin Nevin made no mistake from close range to score the crucial second goal - the end result of a direct move that was started by influential midfielder Michael Brady with Clendenning providing the perfect final pass.
Full-back Barry Gilleran then surged forward to join the attack, linking up with Brian Walsh on his way to shooting over the bar, and an exchange of points followed with Padraig Gill and Walsh on target.
Slashers went on to extend their advantage with a brace of further scores through Niall Mulligan (free) and substitute Ciaran Farrell, the latter a member of the Junior team that won the championship title last year.
Gaels manager Seamus Quinn, the former Leitrim footballer who is in his second season in charge of the Drumlish/Ballinamuck senior side, will not be very happy after this rather poor performance.
But at least his side battled it out to the bitter end and were rewarded with two late consolation points - the first from wing back Michael Kiernan while substitute Danny McGee also got his name on the scoresheet.
LONGFORD SLASHERS: Colm Farrell; Gareth Ghee, Barry Gilleran (0-1), Adrian Duffy; Peter Foy (0-1), Dermot Brady, Tadhg Maher; Andrew Dalton (1-1), Michael Brady; Brian Farrell, Niall Mulligan (0-1, free), Trevor Clendenning (0-1); Mark Smith (0-4, all frees), Brian Walsh (0-1), Martin Nevin (1-1).
Subs:- Sean Clarke for T Maher (43 mins); Ciaran Farrell (0-1) for M Smith (43 mins); Niall Kelly for B Farrell (53 mins); Andrew Kelly for B Walsh (54 mins); Shane Rodgers for A Duffy (54 mins).
FR MANNING GAELS: Paddy Collum; Ciaran Cooney, Cian Brady, Dean Cosgrove; Michael Kiernan (0-1), Johnny Kane, Michael Kelly; Dylan Quinn, Mark Duffy; David Collum (0-2), Diarmuid Cooney (0-2), Padraig Gill (0-3); Darren Farrelly, Sean Whelan, Emmet Noonan.
Subs:- Danny McGee (0-1) for S Whelan (half-time); John Paul Farrelly for D Collum (52 mins); Robert Rehill for M Kelly (54 mins).
Referee: Fergal Kelly