Abbeylara cruised into the last eight of the Senior Football Championship with ridiculous ease as the lop-sided nature of the league stage in the battle for the Connolly Cup was yet again illustrated at Allen Park on Saturday evening last.
The weaker teams continue to suffer the humiliation of heavy defeats and Ballymahon were eventually hammered by 25 points with powerful Abbeylara ace Niall Sheridan inflicting most of the damage.
Longford manager Glenn Ryan was among the attendance at the Clonguish grounds on the look out for some emerging talent but it was former county player Sheridan who really stood out to score three fisted goals in the first half.
Big Niall was at his brilliant best in the role of the target man in setting up several other scores and the lethal Abbeylara full-forward-line caused havoc with Robbie Smyth firing over a total of nine points (all from play) while Seanie Murphy clocked up 2-2 with Sheridan having a hand in both of those goals.
It could have been even worse for a very poor Ballymahon outfit as their keeper Fergal Kelly produced a few fine saves (he twice denied Sheridan) to prevent Abbeylara adding to their goals tally and the direct supply of the ball into Niall was so effective with midfielder Derek Smyth much to the fore in this regard.
Connecting with a long ball in from James McEntire, Niall got his first goal in the opening minute and three points quickly followed from Robbie Smyth (2) and Jason Kelly before Ballymahon closed the gap with a brace of scores through Colm Flynn (7th minute) and Alan Hudson.
Kelly then went close to getting another goal for Abbey when his point-blank shot was stopped by Fergal Kelly but things gradually got worse for Ballymahon who ended up trailing by 4-8 to 0-4 at the break with their other points coming from Colm Flynn and John Deane.
Niall Sheridan (2-1), Seanie Murphy (1-1), Jason Kelly (0-1) and Robbie Smyth (0-2) accounted for the other Abbeylara scores in the first half demolition job and demoralised Ballymahon conceded another 1-9 in the second half.
Seanie Murphy got the goal with just three minutes gone on the changeover, latching on to a neat flick from Niall Sheridan, while five of the points were registered by Robbie Smyth. Murphy also shot over the bar while others on target for rampant Abbeylara were Jason Kelly (free), William Crawford and substitute Michael O’Connor.
In the closing stages of the game Ballymahon did manage a few consolation scores through Colm Flynn who converted three frees and were relieved to hear the sound of the final whistle after suffering such a shattering setback.
ABBEYLARA: Damien O’Connor; Michael McHugh, Fergal Battrim, Cormac Smyth; James McEntire, Colm P Smyth, Shane Mahon; Arthur O’Connor, Derek Smyth; Brian Smyth, William Crawford (0-1), Jason Kelly (0-3, one free); Seanie Murphy (2-2), Niall Sheridan (3-1), Robbie Smyth (0-9).
Subs:- Anthony McBrien for J Kelly (38 mins); James McHugh for B Smyth (43 mins); Michael O’Connor (0-1) for A O’Connor (45 mins); Padraig Battrim for N Sheridan (46 mins); Larry McHugh for M McHugh (50 mins).
BALLYMAHON: Fergal Kelly; James Kenny, Ken Lovell, Gareth Murtagh; Matthew Daly, Kevin Diffley, Emmet Finn; Cian Cooney, Mark Lennon; John Deane (0-1), Colm Flynn (0-5, three frees), John Reid; Thomas Lennon, Alan Hudson (0-1), Andy Mullen.
Subs:- Jamsie Farrell for A Mullen (27 mins); Mark Connor for J Reid (half-time); Diarmuid Fallon for M Daly (injured, 34 mins); Lee Masters for J Deane (47 mins); Edwin Nally for T Lennon (51 mins).
Referee: Ger Carberry (Killoe Young Emmets).