While Longford Slashers made it through to the last eight of the Senior Football Championship they were made work hard for their eventual victory over a gallant Granard side at Devine Park, Mostrim on Saturday evening last.
Minus the services of Michael Brady, Paul Kelly and Mark Smith, Slashers overcame the handicap of having a player sent-off when substitute Andrew Dalton received a straight red card in the 37th minute, at which stage just a solitary point separated the sides, 0-7 to 1-3.
But Denis Connerton’s side then stepped up another gear to fire over five points in a decisive dominant spell between the 38th and 48th minutes with the scores coming from Philip Dobson (a terrific strike), Colin Smith (2 frees), Martin Nevin and Peter Foy.
Granard’s only reply was a very good point from Liam O’Rourke in the 42nd minute but they kept plugging away. Following a free converted by James Hynes (his fourth in the game), St. Mary’s were thrown a lifeline when David Blessington grabbed a goal in the 51st minute to close the gap to the minimum of margins, 0-12 to 2-5.
But Granard failed to register another score as the impressive Colin Smith kicked three points (one free) in quick succession to put some daylight between the sides and the sky-blues clinched the win when Philip Dobson got a goal in the 58th minute. Smith was very much the main man for Slashers, kicking a total of eight points (four from play), and his side appeared to be cruising when they raced into a 0-5 to 0-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Granard gradually got their act together and after Stephen Lynch was denied a goal when he flicked the ball against the post, the north Longford side found the back of the net in the 28th minute after Liam O’Rourke put Barry Gilleran under pressure but Slashers never looked like losing the game.
LONGFORD SLASHERS: Colm Farrell; Dominic Glennon, Barry Gilleran, Gareth Ghee; Peter Brady, Dermot Brady, Trevor Clendenning; David Sheridan, Niall Mulligan; Martin Nevin (0-2), Colin Smith (0-8, 4 frees), Paul Devine; Peter Foy (0-2), Marc Diffley (0-2), Philip Dobson (1-1).
Sub:- Andrew Dalton for P Devine (28 mins).
GRANARD: Eoin Mallon; Jody Connolly, Thomas Gallagher, Vinny Nally; Brian Sheridan, David Blessington (1-0), Paul Smyth; Charlie Martin, Darren Gallagher; Stephen Lynch, Derek Sheridan, Liam Sullivan; Alan Neilon, Liam O’Rourke (1-1), James Hynes (0-4, all frees).
Subs:- Bernard Clyne for J Connolly (15 mins); Ian Small for S Lynch (45 mins); Paddy McGivney for V Nally (injured, 47 mins); Declan Hynes for J Hynes (51 mins); Fergus Kelly for A Neilon (57 mins).
Referee: Tony Gaffney (Mostrim).