A far superior Longford asserted their authority early on in last Saturday’s National League Division 4 clash with London at Ruislip, opening up a large lead that they never looked like surrendering.
Longford always looked sharper in front of goal and displayed the sort of slick and fast passing that allowed them to work their way up field with speed, often catching an unprepared London on the break.
Paul McKeon was certainly the star of an assured Longford performance and it was his second half goal that put Longford into a commanding 1-11 to 0-2 lead. Although it increased the misery on Paul Coggins’ team, control of the tie belonged to Jack Sheedy’s team since Longford hit London with a blitz of scores halfway through the first half that London just had no answer to.
The unavailable Mark Gottsche was sorely missed in the London midfield where Longford were very much in charge, despite the absence of the injured Michael Quinn. Experienced attacker Brian Kavanagh was also ruled out while the U-21 players were rested in view of the Leinster Championship quarter-final clash against Louth this Wednesday night.
Longford go into their fourth game in the league (at home to Waterford next Sunday) with their unbeaten record still intact. The game was three minutes old when Longford midfielder Kevin Diffley opened the scoring, taking his chance after some patient Longford passing.
Paul McKeon brought a good save out of London keeper Brian Kavanagh before Francis McGee doubled the Longford advantage from a free.
London then got on the scoreboard on 13 minutes after some patient passing. When Danny McBride found Alan O’Hara, the London forward took his score well.
Longford were guilty of letting some opportunities go astray. Although they were able to catch London with some quick breaks, they hit two wides either side of O’Hara’s point.
The venue for this match was changed to Greenford over concerns about the playing surface, although it was switched back to Ruislip on the day. The slippery conditions were beginning to tell at this stage with the muckiness of the surface making things difficult for both teams.
Paul McKeon stretched the Longford lead to two with a free from a slightly tight angle. It was then that Longford really seized the initiative, hitting three points in quick succession to give themselves some breathing space.
Sean McCormack passed to Enda Williams for a great score that curled over the bar. Moments later Colm P Smyth hit a great score that he managed to direct over the bar despite the fact he was losing his footing on the slippery surface while striking it. Diarmaid Masterson then charged forward to add a score as the entire Longford half-back-line got on the scoresheet.
Now trailing by five points, London answered with another Alan O’Hara point that came from an almost impossible angle. Francis McGee’s curling score restored Longford’s five point advantage and Ronan McEntire rounded off the first half scoring. The more clinical Longford went in at the break 0-8 to 0-2 in front and it already looked like a match London would struggle to get back into.
The task facing London would look even more insurmountable with not long more than ten minutes of the second half gone as Longford hit 1-5 without reply. Barry McKeon opened the scoring six minutes in from Francis McGee’s pass. Paul McKeon added to this with his impressive score from distance. Francis McGee then finished off another quick break by Longford with a great score.
Paul McKeon heaped further misery on a struggling London team when he found the net almost ten minutes into the second half. Paul, who was a handful for London’s defence all day, beat his man to put himself one on one with the opposing keeper when he made no mistake to find the back of the net.
Finding a real rhythm now, Longford followed this immediately with two more points. Enda Williams found Sean McCormack who shot over the bar. Colm P Smyth’s chip flew just over the bar but could also have been just under. Longford now led by 1-13 to 0-2 and the match was all over as a contest.
London looked to put some respectability on the scoreboard at least and began with a good free from Lorcan Mulvey, followed by a further point from Alan O’Hara who got his shot on target from another impossible angle.
Back came Longford and Paul McKeon then pointed another free just before a Sean McCormack score. With little more than ten minutes left, Cathal Og Greene passed to Scott Conroy for a great London team score.
Substitute Conor Quaine scored Longford’s 16th point of the game after exchanging passes with Paul McKeon before Francis McGee was able to point from a tight angle. Padraig Gill, also off the bench, rounded off Longford’s scoring after a solo run down the right wing.
London at least got the last word as Shane Buckley’s point would be the final score of the match.
LONDON: Brian Kavanagh; Donnacha McCarthy, Philip Butler, Philip Galvin; Stephen Curran, Martin Carroll, Michael Walsh; Cathal Og Greene, Aaron Bradley; Lorcan Mulvey (0-1, free), Sean Finn, Danny McBride; Brian Smith, Scott Conroy (0-1), Alan O’Hara (0-3).
Subs:- David McGreevey for Bradley; John Lynch for Walsh; Eanna McCartney for Mulvey; Alfie McNulty for McCarthy, Shane Buckley (0-1) for Finn.
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum (Fr Manning Gaels); Dermot Brady (Longford Slashers), Barry O’ Farrell (Carrickedmond), Peter Foy (Longford Slashers); Colm P Smyth (Abbeylara, 0-2), Diarmaid Masterson (Dromard, 0-1), Enda Williams (Clonguish, 0-1); Barry Gilleran (Longford Slashers), Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon, 0-1); Shane Doyle (Kenagh), Paul McKeon (Colmcille, 1-3, two frees), Ronan McEntire (Dromard, 0-1); Barry McKeon (Colmcille, 0-1), Sean McCormack (Killoe Emmet Og, 0-2), Francis McGee (Dromard, 0-4, one free).
Subs:- (all in the final quarter of the game): Fergal Battrim (Abbeylara) for P Foy (black card); Padraig Gill (Fr Manning Gaels, 0-1) for S Doyle; Aidan Rowan (Cashel) for R McEntire; Conor Quaine (Legan Sarsfields, 0-1) for K Diffley; Diarmuid Cooney (Fr Manning Gaels) for F McGee: Thomas Gallagher (St Mary’s Granard) for D Brady.
Referee: James Molloy