A goal from a penalty converted by Barry Gilleran in the early stages of the second half proved to be the decisive matchwinning score as Longford Slashers got the better of Clonguish in Division 1 of the All County Football League at Michael Fay Park on Wednesday night of last week and the fierce rivalry between the clubs is still brewing from the senior championship final clash last year on the evidence of this tough encounter.
While Clonguish were suffering their first defeat in the current campaign under the guidance of new manager Trevor Smullen, it was a fourth win in a row in the league this season for the county champions who were minus the services of injured trio Stephen Phillips, Mark Smith and Martin Nevin while also missing was the suspended David Sheridan.
David Barden (nursing a recurring hamstring strain) was the most notable absentee on the Clonguish team who came out with all guns blazing in the first half and showed the greater urgency to establish a fairly comfortable 0-9 to 0-5 advantage and went close to scoring a goal in the 19th minute when Paul Barden raced through to blast the ball over the bar.
Paddy Dowd was particularly prominent with four points (three frees) to his credit while Barden fisted another score for the reigning Division 1 and Leader Cup title holders who were playing at a high tempo in making it extremely difficult for Slashers. Joe O’Brien (a terrific strike from near the sideline), Stephen McLoughlin and Stephen Watters (a great long range effort) were also on target for the fired up visitors who were clearly the superior side in the first half.
Slashers were sluggish, to say the least, but managed to remain in contention thanks to the accurate free-taking of Colin Smith (who fired over four points) with Trevor Clendenning getting a brace of scores, the first of which was a good chance of a goal in the 5th minute.
Paul Kelly, always a threat, looked set to find the back of the Clonguish net in the 27th minute when he was put through by Tom Madden but opposing keeper Mikey McGuinness got a vital touch to deflect the ball over the bar.
Clonguish had to be content with a slender 0-9 to 0-7 lead at the break and were unable to maintain the same momentum in the second half as Slashers gradually got on top in the key positions while particularly impressive in the half-back-line was county U-21 Sean Flynn who surged forward at almost every opportunity.
The turning point of the game materialised with just two minutes gone on the changeover when Martin Tarmey rounded Mikey McGuinness to set himself up for a certain goal but was subsequently fouled by the Clonguish keeper and a penalty was awarded.
Barry Gilleran made no mistake to fire home a crucial goal and Tarmey was to the fore again soon after when he shot over the bar. Slashers added three more scores to their tally through Niall Mulligan (‘45’), Colin Smith (free) and the prominent Gilleran and all Clonguish could manage in the second half was just two points from frees converted by Paddy Dowd.
The departure of Enda Williams, who was eventually forced to retire injured in the 51st minute, certainly did not help the Clonguish cause and they are probably still the biggest threat to Slashers in the battle for the 2012 championship title.
LONGFORD SLASHERS: David Sheahan; Ruairi Barrins, Barry Gilleran (1-1, goal from penalty), Gareth Ghee; Peter Brady, Dermot Brady, Sean Flynn; Niall Mulligan (0-1, ‘45’), Michael Brady; Conor Clarke, Colin Smith (0-5, all frees), Trevor Clendenning (0-2); Tom Madden, Paul Kelly (0-1), Martin Tarmey (0-1).
Subs:- Paul Devine for R Barrins (half-time); Philip Dobson for T Madden (54 mins).
CLONGUISH: Mikey McGuinness; Brendan Burke, John O’Brien, Brendan Devine; Darren Quinn, Enda Williams, Padraig Cooney; Stephen Watters (0-1), David Faughnan; Stephen McLoughlin (0-1), Paddy Dowd (0-6, five frees), Paul Barden (0-2); Colin Clarke, Joe O’Brien (0-1), Kevin Burke.
Subs:- Stephen Norton for C Clarke (42 mins); Paddy Corcoran for E Williams (injured, 51 mins).
Referee: Tony Gaffney (Mostrim).
All County Football League Division 1 Table
P W D L For AG Diff Pts
Longford Slashers 4 4 0 0 62 28 34 8
Killoe 4 4 0 0 56 34 22 8
Colmcille 4 3 0 1 49 35 14 6
Clonguish 4 2 1 1 60 46 14 5
Abbeylara 4 2 1 1 47 54 -7 5
Dromard 4 2 0 2 61 45 16 4
Mostrim 4 2 0 2 55 43 12 4
Carrickedmond 4 2 0 2 40 54 -14 4
Mullinalaghta 4 1 0 3 38 37 1 2
Fr Manning Gaels 4 1 0 3 36 55 -19 2
Kenagh 4 0 0 4 31 57 -26 0
Rathcline 4 0 0 4 28 75 -47 0