After slipping up in surprise defeats against Abbeylara and Mullinalaghta in the group stage, Dromard got their title challenge back on track with a comprehensive win over Ballymahon in a high scoring Senior Football Championship play-off at the Higginstown grounds, Granard on Saturday evening last.
The north Longford side were never really extended in booking their passage through to the quarter-finals but there is still plenty of room for improvement and conceding 2-13 to very ordinary opposition will be giving team manager Enda Macken considerable cause for concern as the battle for the Connolly Cup now gets serious.
Whatever about their problems in defence, the return of Diarmuid Masterson is a big boost for Dromard around the middle of the field while few can argue with the fact that they have a lot of quality in attack with Cian Mimnagh, Ronan McEntire, Ross McNerney and Francis McGee all capable of posing a major threat.
Mimnagh (1-5), McEntire (1-3), McNerney (0-6) and McGee (0-4) clocked up 2-18 between them as Dromard brushed aside the challenge of Ballymahon with considerable ease, even though just five points separated the sides at the break, 2-10 to 1-8.
The emphatic winners could afford the luxury of kicking seven wides in the first half, along with failing to convert at least two other goal chances. But from the moment Ronan McEntire hit the back of the net at the second attempt with just over a minute gone on the clock, the writing was on the wall for Ballymahon despite their determined efforts.
The second Dromard goal materialised in the 18th minute when Cian Mimnagh was left with the relatively simple task of shooting to the net from a few yards out after collecting the perfect ball in from his brother Declan.
Ballymahon, to their credit, battled extremely hard in the first half to stay in touch and were given a glimmer of hope just before the break when Kevin Diffley planted the ball in the roof of the Dromard net, connecting with a rebound after a Mark Connor ‘45 had hit the crossbar.
Full-forward Thomas Lennon had started the game really well for Ballymahon, firing over a couple of early points, while prominent wing back John Reid surged forward to land a very good score in the 9th minute.
Another Ballymahon defender James Kenny also kicked an excellent point in the first half but the much superior Dromard side were dominant on the changeover in adding another 1-12 to their impressive tally.
Their third goal materialised midway through the second half when Bernard Sheridan broke through to hit the target from close range after he received the ball from Francis McGee.
Diarmuid Masterson also got in on the scoring act to fire over a cracking long range effort in the 49th minute while Ballymahon, after squandering a couple of decent goal chances in the second half, did find the Dromard net for a second time with virtually the last kick of the game.
John Nevin weaved his way through and was subsequently fouled to earn a penalty, which was converted by Kyle Fitzmaurice with a well struck kick for a consolation goal in stoppage time.
DROMARD: Damien Sheridan; Paul McGee, Niall Vance, Padraig McNerney; Emmet Masterson, Jamsie Martin, John Sheridan; Diarmuid Masterson (0-1), Bernard Sheridan (1-1); Francis McGee (0-4), Ronan McEntire (1-3), Ross McNerney (0-6, five frees); Cian Mimnagh (1-5), Peter Masterson, Declan Mimnagh (0-2).
Subs:- Padraig Martin for E Masterson (injured, 39 mins); Kevin Donohoe for P McGee (47 mins); Noel Reynolds for P Masterson (48 mins); James Mimnagh for C Mimnagh (50 mins).
BALLYMAHON: Eddie Noonan; Graham Forbes, Ken Lovell, Sean McMullen; Matthew Daly, James Kenny (0-1), John Reid (0-1); Cian Cooney, Kevin Diffley (1-2); John Nevin, Kyle Fitzmaurice (1-1, goal from penalty), Colm Flynn (0-2, frees); Thomas Mulvihill (0-2), Thomas Lennon (0-3), Mark Connor.
Subs:- Jamie Noonan for J Reid (injured, 52 mins); Edwin Nally (0-1) for T Mulvihill (55 mins).
Referee: Donal Kane (Young Grattans).