Longford minors fade out in defeat by Tipperary

The Longford minor team that started against Tipperary in Round 1 of the Leinster League at Leo Casey Park, Ballymahon on Saturday last. Back row (l to r): Eimhin Glacken, Liam Barry, Russell Brady, Kevin Sorohan, Declan McKenna, Conor Berry and Shane Thompson. Front row (l to r): James Moran, Peter Lynn, Cillian Lee, Cian Brady, Cathal McCabe, Jayson Matthews, Joe Heaney and Cian Finnan. Photo: Kevin Leavy
After showing some promise in the first half to lead by 0-4 to 0-1 at one stage, the Longford minors faded out of the game on the changeover with the stronger Tipperary side winning by four points in the finish at Leo Casey Park in Ballymahon on Saturday last.

After showing some promise in the first half to lead by 0-4 to 0-1 at one stage, the Longford minors faded out of the game on the changeover with the stronger Tipperary side winning by four points in the finish at Leo Casey Park in Ballymahon on Saturday last.

Longford, of course, captured the Leinster Minor Football League title last year but after losing the opening round fixture in the current competition they are highly unlikely to qualify from the group on the evidence of this average performance.

The next league game is at home to Meath this Saturday and a number of players, for different reasons, were not in a position to feature in the match against Tipperary.

Team manager Tony Devlin (Clonguish) and the other mentors Eugene McCormack (Carrickedmond), Colin Dalton (Sean Connolly’s) and Michael Kenny (Mostrim) will be working hard to improve matters in the build-up to the Leinster Championship Round 1 game against Wicklow in Aughrim on Saturday April 17th.

The main difference between the two teams in Ballymahon last weekend was the powerful presence of Tipperary matchwinner Stephen Quirke, who started at full-forward but only really began to click into top gear when moved to midfield in the second half and ended up scoring five points (three from play).

When Conor Berry fired over a free for his third point in the 37th minute, Longford were 0-5 to 0-3 in front with the other scores coming from Peter Lynn (in the early stages of the game) and Jayson Matthews - a couple of cracking efforts.

The home county had suffered a setback just before the break when centre-half-forward Cathal McCabe was forced to retire injured after damaging his ankle but were still very much in contention before Tipperary took over completely.

Trailing by 0-4 to 0-3 at half-time, the visitors had two players, Liam Fahy and Ross Peters, dismissed for black cards during the course of the second half but still dominated the final quarter of the contest.

Tipperary fired over six points in a row through Quirke (4), Aidan Buckley and substitute Michael Hogan to consolidate a firm grip on the game and would have been further in front but for a great save by Longford keeper Declan Mc Kenna in keeping out a close range strike from Jack Delahunty in the 45th minute.

While McKenna produced other good saves in doing well to keep his net intact, he will have to improve on his kick-outs. A turning point was the two wides Longford kicked when they held a slender 0-5 to 0-4 lead and the failure to convert frees in the second half proved costly.

There was a late glimmer of hope when Jayson Matthews landed a fine point from a tight angle in the 60th minute but Tipperary (guilty of shooting a few bad wides in the first half) brought the scoring to a close when the impressive Stephen Quirke shot over the bar again in stoppage time.

LONGFORD: Declan McKenna (Clonguish); James Moran (Young Grattans), Liam Barry (Longford Slashers), Cillian Lee (Killashee); Kevin Sorohan (Rathcline), Cian Brady (Abbeylara), Peter Lynn (Young Grattans, 0-1); Russell Brady (Abbeylara), Conor Berry (Abbeylara, 0-3, two frees); Joe Heaney (Sean Connolly’s), Cathal McCabe (Colmcille), Cian Finnan (Longford Slashers); Jayson Matthews (Mullinalaghta, 0-2), Eimhin Glacken (Clonguish), Shane Thompson (Killoe).

Subs:- Rory Hawkins (Colmcille) for C McCabe (injured, 29 mins); Ronan Sheahan (Longford Slashers) for E Glacken (half-time); Ronan Healy (Cashel) for S Thompson (half-time); Ryan Moffett (Killoe) for C Finnan (59 mins).

TIPPERARY: Charlie Manton; Tommy Lowry, Morgan Irwin, Tadhg Fitzgerald; Liam Fahy, Danny Owens, Shane Power; Jack Kennedy (0-3), Aidan Buckley (0-1); Jody Sheehan, Darragh Egan, Emmet Maloney; Ross Peters, Stephen Quirke (0-5, two frees), Jack Delahunty.

Subs used:- Ben Cooney, Colin English, Dylan Walsh, Mark Kehoe, Gavin Ryan, Michael Hogan (0-1).

Referee: Noel Hand (Louth).