Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Championship Final
Kildare . . . . . 2-15 Longford . . . . 1-9
Thanks to a great start that left them leading by 1-4 to 0-0 with 13 minutes gone in the game, Kildare eventually beat Longford by the comfortable margin of nine points in the Leinster Minor Football Championship Final at Croke Park on Sunday.
The Kildare goal in the 11th minute was a cracking strike from Conor Hartley and while Longford staged a determined comeback that yielded points from Darragh Doherty, Rory Hawkins and a brace from Conor Berry (all from play), they never really looked like salvaging the situation.
A couple of crucial points from Kildare’s chief marksman Jimmy Hyland in first half stoppage time proved to be decisive as they ended up leading by 1-6 to 0-4 at the break and a brilliant start to the second half put the issue beyond all doubt.
The lilywhites clocked up another 1-3 with Ciaran Kelly scoring the crucial second goal with four minutes gone on the changeover and at one stage Longford were trailing by thirteen points, 2-13 to 0-6, with Jayson Matthews getting a couple of scores.
But they battled it out to the bitter end and were rewarded for their perseverance with a point apiece from Liam Barry, Cian Finnan and Peter Lynn while captain Conor Berry scored a consolation goal in the 57th minute.
It is not over yet for the Longford minors who will play the Ulster champions, Cavan or Derry, in the All-Ireland quarter-final on the August bank holiday weekend and injuries to key defenders Conor Farrell (ruled out of the provincial title decider) and Cillian Lee (stretchered off midway through the first half) were significant setbacks against Kildare.
KILDARE: Declan Campbell; Ronan Slattery, Mike Joyce, Darren Lawlor; Sam Doran, Shea Ryan, Sean Healy; Daniel Courtney, Rory Feely; Conor Hartley (1-1), Ethan O’Donohue (0-1), Brian McLoughlin (0-2); Ciaran Kelly (1-2, points from frees), Matthew Kelly, Jimmy Hyland (0-8, one free).
Subs:- Stefan Lawler for S Doran (25 mins); Kevin O’Callaghan for M Kelly (49 mins); Gavin Burke for R Slattery (51 mins); Eoin O’Neill for B McLoughlin (53 mins); Aaron Murphy (0-1, ‘45) for C Kelly (55 mins).
LONGFORD: Michael Hughes (Killoe); Cillian Lee (Killashee), Ronan Sheahan (Longford Slashers), Ryan Moffatt (Killoe); Kevin Sorohan (Rathcline), Michael Cahill (Carrickedmond), Cian Brady (Abbeylara); Peter Hanley (Clonguish), Enda Farrell (Carrickedmond); Cathal McCabe (Colmcille), Darragh Doherty (Mostrim, 0-1), Peter Lynn (Young Grattans, 0-1); Jayson Matthews (Mullinalaghta, 0-2, one free), Conor Berry (captain, Abbeylara, 1-2), Rory Hawkins (Colmcille, 0-1).
Subs:- Liam Barry (Longford Slashers, 0-1) for C Lee (injured, 16 mins); Ruairi Harkin (Colmcille) for C Brady (39 mins); Joe Heaney (Sean Connolly’s) for R Hawkins (40 mins); Russell Brady (Abbeylara) for D Doherty (43 mins); Cian Finnan (Longford Slashers, 0-1) for C McCabe (51 mins); Neil Devlin (Clonguish) for K Sorohan (56 mins).
Referee: Fergal Smyth (Offaly).