Longford Slashers were fortunate to snatch a draw against Mostrim in Round 3 of the Senior Football Championship at Leo Casey Park in Ballymahon on Saturday evening last, a result that was good enough to get Denis Connerton’s side through to the quarter-finals.
Hampered by injuries to key players Niall Mulligan and Paul Kelly, both of whom were forced to retire in quick succession approaching the end of the first quarter, it developed into a fierce struggle for Slashers who looked in trouble when they gifted Mostrim a goal in the early stages of the second half.
A bad mistake in giving the ball away was punished by Brian Farrell, who shot to the back of the net in the 35th minute, and when the same player landed a point moments later it left the Edgeworthstown outfit leading by 1-6 to 0-7 and apparently in a good position to spring a surprise with the advantage of the wind.
But Mostrim failed to register another score during the remainder of this scrappy encounter played in difficult wet conditions and were guilty of kicking a number of costly wides in lacking the belief to beat Slashers.
Having said that, Tony Kelly’s side were still two points ahead in defending deeply to protect their slender lead and Slashers looked to have blown it when Sean Clarke failed to convert a clear-cut opportunity of a goal in the 50th minute.
But with Mostrim missing chances to clinch the victory they needed to avoid the relegation play-offs, Slashers staged a determined late rally that yielded a point apiece from Peter Foy and Colin Smith (free) to leave the sides all square at the final whistle.
On the evidence of this poor performance, the 2013 county champions will have to improve greatly if they hope to make further progress in the current Connolly Cup campaign.
It was rough justice on Mostrim, who could have emerged victorious after making a terrific start to lead by 0-4 to 0-0 with 11 minutes gone on the clock with three of the points coming from Cillian Lynn.
Alan O’Hara had opened the scoring in the first minute but Slashers gradually gained control and ended up leading by 0-6 to 0-5 at the break despite shooting several bad wides.
Colin Smith (play) got their opening score in the 13th minute, and also converted two frees, while others on target in the first half were Trevor Clendenning, Andrew Kelly and Sean Clarke - the last two points coming just before the break.
Smith fired over another free with three minutes gone on the changeover but Slashers did not score again until the 56th minute as their attacks were met with fierce resistance from a resolute Mostrim defence.
While the sky-blues refused to panic in battling back to earn a draw, they are clearly not the force they used to be and spirited Mostrim were hit hard by the absence of experienced injured duo Seamus Hannon and Michael Kenny.
LONGFORD SLASHERS: Colm Farrell; Gareth Ghee, Barry Gilleran, Peter Brady; Peter Foy (0-1), Dermot Brady, Sean Clarke (0-1); Niall Mulligan, Michael Brady; Trevor Clendenning (0-1), Paul Kelly, Ruairi Clarke; Martin Tarmey, Colin Smith (0-5, four frees), Marc Diffley.
Subs:- Darren Flaherty for N Mulligan (injured, 13 mins); Andrew Kelly (0-1) for P Kelly (injured, 14 mins); Martin Nevin for R Clarke (45 mins); Niall Kelly for M Tarmey (55 mins); Conor Clarke for M Diffley (59 mins).
MOSTRIM: Terry Casey; Cathal Smith, Sean Monaghan, Aaron Gallagher; Damien Moran, Sean Noone, Martin Coyle; Fintan Coyle, Gerard Smith; Luke Kelly, Cillian Lynn (0-3), Alan O’Hara (0-1); Ciaran Gallagher, Brian Farrell (1-2), Shane Kiernan.
Subs:- Michael Hussey for S Noone (injured, 6 mins); Darragh Doherty for A O’Hara (56 mins).
Blood Sub:- John Mulhern for G Smith (twice in the second half).
Referee: Michael Flynn