The value of such vast experience stood to Tyrone as they eventually asserted their superiority over a brave Longford side and the turning point materialised with a couple of minutes gone on the changeover when Mark Donnelly planted the ball in the back of the net for the decisive only goal in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Round 2 game that attracted an attendance in the region of 8,000 to Pearse Park on Saturday evening last.
After working so hard to establish a slender 0-8 to 0-7 lead at the break, Longford lost their way completely in the early stages of the second half as Tyrone (with the advantage of the wind) stepped up another gear to register 1-3 without reply in the space of five minutes with Damien Sheridan producing a magnificent point-blank from the dangerous Donnelly to deflect the ball over the bar and from there on the gallant home county were fighting a losing battle.
Considering that they made no less than five changes to the team that appeared on the match programme with Stephen O’Neill, Kevin Hughes, Davy Harte and Martin Swift playing no part in this entertaining encounter, Tyrone were still too strong for the Division 4 league champions and their greater quality eventually emerged as they safely negotiated what was generally considered to be a tricky task.
Make no mistake about it, Tyrone will be a tough nut to crack through the back door and the 2008 All-Ireland champions will probably end up back at Croke Park for a quarter-final date. Longford, on the other hand, can reflect on a successful season that yielded some silverware along with decent displays in the championship and the indications are that Glenn Ryan will be back in charge for a fourth term in 2012.
To read this story in full, see this week’s edition of the Longford Leader.