Although only four points separated the sides in the finish, Longford were generally in control against Westmeath on their way to another win in the Fr. Manning Cup Tournament and will be hoping to extend their unbeaten run to three games when they take on Sligo at Allen Park in Newtownforbes this Wednesday evening, throw-in 7.30pm.
Westmeath came to Devine Park in Edgeworthstown on Wednesday evening last minus the services of six or seven players who were apparently good enough to feature on the team and looked a very disorganised outfit indeed in the first half as Longford dominated the exchanges to establish a comfortable 0-9 to 0-3 lead at the break.
Missing from the team that beat Leitrim in the opening round of the six-county tournament were full-back Ronan Sweeney (Clonguish) and wing forward Jamie King (Killoe) but Longford were still too strong for Westmeath and had extended their commanding advantage to 11 points (0-14 to 0-3) midway through the second half.
It could have been even worse for the visitors as Ronan Duffy had a goal attempt blocked down in the 35th minute while Aidan McElligott looked all set to find the back of the net in the 44th minute but was denied by the opposing keeper Darren Cassidy, the half-time substitute who produced a fine point-blank save.
But Westmeath awoke from their slumber to finally get their act together in the final quarter and while the game was lost they managed to put a more respectable look on the final scoreline with seven points in a row – a total of six (five frees) from accurate wing forward Darren Giles while substitute Kenneth Dolan (free) also got his name on the scoresheet.
That closed the gap to just four points (0-14 to 0-10) but Longford grabbed a goal in the final minute of normal time when a sweeping move started by corner-back Eoin Higgins and also involving Shane Kenny ended up with Michael Corcoran planting a well struck shot in the back of the net.
Westmeath, to their credit, launched an immediate counter-attack that yielded a consolation goal from Darren Giles in stoppage time after he latched on to a perfect crossfield pass from midfielder Eric Kearney.
Longford were the superior side for most of the game and particularly prominent in the first half was corner-forward Rian Brady who fired over four points (three frees). With David McGivney dominating the midfield battle the home attack received a great supply of the ball and McGivney fired over a couple of scores with Michael Corcoran, Ronan Duffy and Nigel Rabbitte also on target.
Centre-half-back Darragh Gilna surged forward to register Longford’s first score in the second half and a further four points followed from Nigel Rabbitte, Rian Brady (free), Aidan McElligott and Shane Kenny (42nd minute) as the rampant home county put the issue beyond all doubt.
LONGFORD: Luke Meehan (Northern Gaels); Mark Tully (Granard/Ballymore), Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connolly’s), Eoin Higgins (Granard/Ballymore); Aaron Earley (Northern Gaels), Darragh Gilna (Killoe, 0-1), Alan Sorohan (Clonguish); David McGivney (Northern Gaels, 0-2), Shane Kenny (Rathcline, 0-1); Ronan Duffy (Clonguish, 0-1), Nigel Rabbitte (Northern Gaels, 0-2), Michael Corcoran (Clonguish, 1-1); Rian Brady (Northern Gaels, 0-5, four frees), Aidan McElligott (Northern Gaels, 0-1), Rory Sullivan (Moydow).
Sub:- Enda Macken (Colmcille) for R Sullivan (50 mins).
WESTMEATH: Darren O’Connell; Gary Fagan, Peter Murray, Bobby Gonoud; Darren Leech, Gavin Glennon, Daire Conway; Eric Kearney, Stephen Ward; Daniel Loughrey, Darren Keena, Darren Giles (1-9, six points from frees); Ciaran Shanley, Eoghan Kelly, Aaron Farrell.
Subs:- Wayne Kelly for G Fagan (19 mins); Kenneth Dolan (0-1, free) for A Farrell (half-time); Darren Cassidy for D O’Connell (half-time); Boidu Sayeh for E Kelly (41 mins).
Referee: Marty Parker (Roscommon).