A strong Longford performance in the first half proved to be sufficient to defeat Leitrim in a lively Connacht Minor Football League game in Cloone on Saturday evening last as the build-up continues to the Leinster Championship first round clash against Meath at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on April 14th.
Longford recorded their first win in this competition after losing to Mayo, Galway and Roscommon in their previous games while Leitrim remain winless having also gone under to Sligo and Roscommon.
Padraig Gallagher got Leitrim off to a good start against Longford when he put over a 4th minute free. But the visitors got on level terms in the following minute when Brian Walsh shot over from play.
Within the space of another minute Longford took the lead when Rory Connor slotted over a free. This score was followed by another five unanswered points by Longford which put them into a 0-7 to 0-1 lead by the 20th minute.
Rory Connor scored three further points; one a fine long range effort from play while the other two were from converted frees, with Gary Connell and Larry Moran also adding a point each from play.
After Leitrim had gone twenty minutes without scoring Niall Brady replied with a 23rd minute point from play. But Rory Connor hit back with a similar score for Longford within the space of another minute.
Padraig Gallagher kept Leitrim in touch when he converted a 26th minute free. But Longford stretched their lead to seven points soon after when Ross McNerney tapped over a free after he was fouled.
Prior to the break Padraig Gallagher hit the target from a Leitrim free which left the home side trailing by 0-10 to 0-4 at half-time. Following the restart neither side managed to raise a flag until seven minutes had elapsed when Rory Connor increased Longford’s lead from a placed ball and he then converted another free.
Leitrim at last came to life at the beginning of the final quarter. A well-taken Niall Brady goal eventually got their challenge going and they managed to reduce the deficit to three points by the 53rd minute when Padraig Gallagher slotted over a free and Brady shot over from play.
A 57th minute second yellow card was issued to Gallagher and Leitrim were reduced to 14 players for the closing stages of the action and before the end Longford’s Rory Connor and Leitrim’s Stephen Gilheaney exchanged points from frees.
LONGFORD: Colm Farrell; Cian Farrelly, Patrick Farrell, Martin Mulligan; Shane Clarke, Aidan McElligott, Emmett Noonan; Timmy Jackson, Andrew Dalton; Gary Connell 0–1, Ross McNerney 0–1, Brian Walsh 0–1; David McGivney, Rory Connor 0–8 (six frees), Larry Moran 0–1.
Subs:- Killian Farrell for D McGivney (43 mins); Mattie Gorman for L Moran (46 mins); Paddy Kiernan for M Gorman (60 mins).
LEITRIM: Brendan Flynn; Enda Fowley, Declan Daly, Gary Butler; Brendan Byrne, Stephen Gilheaney 0–1; Felim McHugh, Donal Wrynn; Nicholas Moore, Cathal McCawley, Daragh McKiernan; Niall Brady 1–2, Padraig Gallagher 0–4 (all frees), Conor Gaffney.
Subs:- Mark McGrory for C McCawley (22 mins); Colm Neville for D Daly (24 mins); Shane Doonan for G Butler (41 mins).
Referee: Patrick Neilan (Roscommon).
Footnote: Longford minor manager Martin Mulleady has been suspended for eight weeks following a clash with the Meath minor manager Andy McEntee in the recent Leinster League semi-final between the counties in Monaduff, Drumlish on March 25th. McEntee is also suspended for the same length of time but Mulleady is appealing the ban in the hope of receiving a reprieve to take charge of the Longford squad for the Leinster Championship first round clash at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday week, April 14th, which ironically is against Meath.