Fr. Manning Gaels got their U-21 Football Championship campaign off to a great start with a nine point win over Longford Slashers in the floodlit Round 1 fixture at bitterly cold Michael Fay Park on Friday night last. Holding a slender one point lead at the break, the Gaels steeped up a couple of gears in the second half to pull right away. James Noonan, in particular, had a fine game for the Drumlish/Ballinamuck side as he fired over a few excellent long range points. Longford Slashes for their part showed encouraging signs in the first half and raised the white flag on five occasions. However, they could only manage just one point in the second half and this came in the closing stages when Niall Kelly slotted over a close range free. The Gaels hit Slashers with a killer blow in the 43rd minute.
They patiently worked the ball into the Slashers half and when Podge Gill got himself into a good position, the corner-forward pulled the trigger with a powerful shot that rattled the top corner of the net. From here on in, Fr. Manning Gaels continued to exhibit their shooting skills and further points from James Noonan, Darren Farrelly, Pete Collum and a marvellous ‘45’ from their keeper Paddy Collum closed out an impressive display. FR. MANNING GAELS: Patrick Collum (0-1 ‘45’); Brian Collum, Mark Breslin, Francis Mollaghan; Conor Heslin, Dylan Quinn, Darren Quinn; Diarmuid Cooney, Sean Whelan; Pete Collum (0-1), James Noonan (1-4, one free), Emmet Noonan; Gary Connell (0-1), Darren Farrelly (0-1), Podge Gill (1-1). Subs:- Paul Hughes for M Breslin (42 mins); Mark Prunty for D Cooney (46 mins); Martin Cassidy for G Connell (52 mins); Neil Connolly for P Collum (56 mins); Derek McCormack for E Noonan (57 mins). LONGFORD SLASHERS: Colm Farrell; Adrian Duffy, Lee Shields, Jamie Mulligan; Shane Rodgers, Conor Clarke, Darren Flaherty; Sean Flynn, Andrew Dalton (0-1); Ciaran Farrell, Brian Walsh (0-3, two frees), Tadhg Maher; Darren Kelly, Morgan Kelly, Niall Kelly (0-2, frees). Subs:- Ryan Hewitt for M Kelly (22 mins); Daniel Phillips for T Maher (42 mins); Nathan Conroy for C Farrell (45 mins); Mark Mulligan for D. Kelly (52 mins); Danny Monks for D Flaherty (57 mins). Referee: Michael Flynn (Ballymore).