County stage late comeback but Westmeath hold out for win

County stage late comeback but Westmeath hold out for win
Westmeath . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-11

Westmeath . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-11

Longford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-10

Deniese O’Flaherty

reporting from Devine Park

At the official opening of the new stand and pitch at the Mostrim GAA grounds on Sunday last, Longford lost narrowly to neighbours Westmeath in a challenge match as the preparations continued for the Leinster Senior Football Championship clash against Offaly on May 18th.

Just like the previous challenge game against Roscommon the result was meaningless; for manager Jack Sheedy the important thing was the performance and there are things to work on between now and the big game against Offaly.

Although Longford themselves had early chances it was Westmeath who got the scores on the board early on. David McCormack and James Dolan got points inside the first 10 minutes before Longford’s Colm P Smyth received a black card and was replaced by James McGivney who put in a steady performance.

Callum McCormack gave Westmeath a three point lead in the 14th minute and Longford thought they had got their first score just after but Sean McCormack’s free was surprisingly signalled wide. But he did raise the white flag in the 22nd minute from a free, just after John Heslin (free) had put four between the sides.

A good point from play from Heslin restored Westmeath’s advantage but points from McCormack (free) and Brian Kavanagh cut the gap by the 28th minute. Just before the break Callum McCormack put Westmeath ahead by three, 0-6 to 0-3.

Knowing that they hadn’t really performed like they could in the first half, Longford improved on the changeover and enjoyed a good spell. Two fine points from Francis McGee brought them to within one point of Westmeath by the 41st minute and a great point from midfielder John Keegan three minutes later levelled the game.

Longford edged in front in the 45th minute with a nice effort from Shane Doyle. From the kick-out an excellent point from substitute Ray Connellan drew Westmeath level and David McCormack then put the Lake County back in front in the 47th minute.

Then came a number of changes from both sides as substitutes were introduced. Westmeath didn’t make as many changes as Longford and points from Aidan Burke and John Heslin gave them a three point lead by the 56th minute.

Two minutes later Alan Giles scored a goal to extend that lead to six when he latched onto a Dessie Dolan pass to finish the ball to the net. Longford tried hard to get back into the game and in the 63rd minute they got a goal. Brian Farrell’s effort was saved but the loose ball was pounced on by Mark Hughes to bring Longford to within three points of Westmeath.

A great point from Mostrim player Farrell put two between the sides but Aidan Burke replied for Westmeath. Longford finished the game strong as Aidan Rowan and Brian Farrell scored a point apiece but the home county were unable to get the equalising score.

LONGFORD: Damien Sheridan; Dermot Brady, Peter Brady, Barry O’Farrell; Colm P Smyth, Enda Williams, Shane Mulligan; John Keegan (0-1), Niall Mulligan; Michael Quinn, Paul Barden, Shane Doyle (0-1); Francis McGee (0-2), Brian Kavanagh (0-1), Sean McCormack (0-2, 2 frees).

Subs used:- James McGivney, Peter Foy, Aidan Rowan (0-1), Paul McKeon, Michael Brady, Ronan McEntire, Paddy Collum, Kevin Diffley, Mark Hughes (1-0), Brian Farrell (0-2), Fergal Reilly, Darren Gallagher.

WESTMEATH: Stephen Gallagher; Stephen Gilmore, Kieran Gavin, Kevin Maguire; Ronan Foley, Paul Egan, Killian Daly; John Heslin (0-3, 1 free), David McCormack (0-2); Callum McCormack (0-2), John Egan, Ciaran Gilmartin; James Dolan (0-1), Dessie Dolan, Alan Giles (1-0).

Subs used:- Ray Connellan (0-1), Doran Harte, Jamie Gonoud, Shane Flynn, Alan Coffey, Aidan Burke (0-2), David Lynch.

Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).