Michael Flynn pictured in action for Longford against Meath in the Leinster Minor Football Championship Round 1 game at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday last Photo: Syl Healy
The so resilient Longford U-17 footballers overcame the significant setback of playing most of the final quarter of the game with 14 men to score a great win over the reigning All-Ireland minor champions Meath at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday last.
Longford . . . 1-11 Meath . . . 1-10
The Royal County were trailing by six points at one stage in the second half but came storming back with the aid of the wind to gradually close the gap and hit the front when Michael McIvor shot over the bar in the 58th minute.
Longford had lost midfielder Jack Belton after he received a black card in the 48th minute but when the Mostrim lad came back on, a spirited late charge yielded a brace of scores to clinch a mighty win.
Michael Flynn fired over a cracking equalising point and a well deserved success was sealed when the captain Matthew Carey converted a close range free following a foul on Paddy Moran in the second minute of stoppage time.
It was a tremendous start to the 2022 Leinster Minor Football Championship for Gareth Johnston’s well drilled side and the home county got a big boost in first half stoppage time with a goal from a penalty converted by Paddy Moran after he was fouled in the square.
That left Longford leading by 1-7 to 0-5 at the break and despite playing against the wind in the second half the advantage was extended to a commanding six points when Matthew Carey converted a free with six minutes gone on the changeover.
Meath were looking in trouble but a well struck goal from Cian Commons soon after brought the visitors right back into contention and the pressure was piling on Longford after the black card for Jack Belton.
The visitors were looking the likely winners when they took the lead (1-10 to 1-9) with time running out but Longford showed a lot of character in eventually coming out on top in a tense and exciting finish thanks to the late scores from Clonguish duo Michael Flynn and Matthew Carey.
Next up for the boys in blue and gold in the group phase of the provincial championship is the Round 2 clash against Kildare (very easy 3-12 to 0-5 winners over Offaly in Round 1) in Newbridge on Saturday April 2 in the bid to qualify for the knockout stage.
It took a terrific team effort and immense work rate to get the better of a fancied Meath side who started with just one member of the team, wing forward Conor McWeeney, which featured in the win over Tyrone in last year’s All-Ireland minor final.
It was McWeeney who got the opening score in the Round 1 clash on Saturday but Longford, showing some positional changes, settled down in hitting back with a point apiece from Andrew Flynn and Michael Flynn, the latter on target in the 6th minute.
Back came Meath with a couple of scores through Rian Stafford and Cian Commons and the ding-dong battle continued with a brace of points from Longford’s influential centre-half-forward Matthew Carey (play and mark).
Meath full-forward Neil McGinley then burst his way through to shoot over the bar to leave the sides level again but Longford pushed on to enjoy a dominant spell that yielded three points in a row - two more from Matthew Carey with Harry Kiernan also getting his name on the scoresheet.
While Meath reduced the deficit with a point from Michael McIvor in stoppage time, Longford were then awarded a penalty for a foul on Paddy Moran who raced through after receiving the ball from Jack Belton.
Moran made no mistake from the kick to leave his side five points in front at the break and it got even better when Carey fired over a free in the early stages of the second half.
Longford managed to register just three more scores during the remainder of the match, the first from Moran in the 54th minute, but did enough to get over the line in the finish.
Some other chances were missed, including a goal attempt from Michael Flynn in the 43rd minute, whereas Meath registered a total of 1-5 on the changeover with the points coming from Rian Stafford (free), Michael McIvor (2), Robbie Finnegan (‘45) and Neil NcGinley (free).
Meath went close to scoring another goal when Longford keeper Caolan Hussey produced a fine point-blank save to keep out a shot from Finnegan in the 52nd minute and that was a crucial moment in this excellent home win.
LONGFORD: Caolan Hussey (Mostrim); Brian Mulvey (Carrickedmond), Eamon Igoe (Killoe), Conor Flynn (Clonguish); Harry Kiernan (Granard, 0-1), Ruairi O’Toole (Dromard), Andrew Flynn (Clonguish, 0-1); Jack Belton (Mostrim), Ross Shields (Clonguish); Michael Murphy (Sean Connolly’s), Matthew Carey (Clonguish, 0-6, two frees, one mark), Jonathan Burke (Clonguish); Harry Mulvihill (Young Grattans), Paddy Moran (Killoe, 1-1, goal from penalty), Michael Flynn (Clonguish, 0-2).
Sub:- Matthew McCormack (Carrickedmond) for H Mulvihill (50 mins).
Blood sub:- Josh Kelly (Kenagh) for P Moran (second half stoppage time).
MEATH: Oisin Black; Oisin Daly, Eoghan Drysdale, Eoghan Ryan; Aidan Mackey, Finn White, Robbie Finnegan (0-1, ‘45); Evan O’Kane, Cian Commons (1-1); Tadhg Martin, Michael McIvor (0-3), Conor McWeeney (0-1); Rian Stafford (0-2, one free), Neil McGinley (0-2, one free), Zach Thornton.
Subs:- Cathal Melody for A Mackey (25 mins); Matthew Scanlon for E O’Kane (half-time); Declan Reilly for Z Thornton (half-time); Oisin Brennan for O Daly (43 mins).
Referee: Eamon O’Connor (Offaly).
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