The talented young Killoe team came of age at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday last when they produced a tremendous display to knock a fancied Navan O’Mahony’s out of the Leinster Club Senior Football Championship with the most emphatic margin of eleven points separating the sides in the finish as the new Longford kingpins advanced to meet the title favourites Portlaoise in the provincial semi-final at O’Moore Park on November 25th.
While that intriguing clash on Sunday week will be a big step up in class for Young Emmets (the first club from the county to reach this stage of the Leinster senior competition since Clonguish in 2003), Tommy McCormack has instilled a great belief into his side who played with a lot of confidence throughout this quarter-final tie and it was all over as a contest when Killoe struck to score a couple of decisive goals in the opening minutes of the second half.
Young Emmets were full value for their 0-7 to 0-4 lead at the break and the killer blow was effectively struck when Simon Kiernan fisted the ball to the back of the net after connecting with a centre from Sean McCormack. Navan O’Mahony’s were reeling on the ropes and suffered another severe setback moments later when Michael Quinn punished a terrible mistake to score a second Killoe goal.
Quinn intercepted a wayward pass out of defence to leave his side in a very commanding 2-7 to 0-4 lead with just three minutes gone on the changeover and there was no way back for the stunned Meath champions who fell further behind soon after when Ronan McGoldrick shot over the bar.
Although the Navan outfit did manage to close the gap with a point from Jake Regan (‘45’) - their first score since the 20th minute of the first half – and followed up quickly with a free converted by Stephen Bray, a wonderful Killoe move yielded a cracking long range point from their captain and centre-half-back Joe McCormack in the 49th minute.
Scores were later exchanged between Shane Gillespie and Sean McCormack (free) with O’Mahony’s going close to scoring a badly needed goal but their close range attempt was blocked down by a resolute Killoe defence who were inspired throughout the game by outstanding full-back Padraig McCormack.
With normal time up, Stephen Bray (free) fired over a consolation score for Navan but Killoe finished with a flourish that yielded three more points without reply through Denis and Ronan McGoldrick with Sean McCormack on target in the third minute of stoppage time to cap off a powerful overall performance by the Longford champions.
For once Killoe did not have to depend on chief marksman McCormack for the bulk of their scores as five of the six forwards got their names on the scoresheet and it must be said that Eugene Clarke and the McGoldrick brothers played particularly well.
The youthful midfield pairing of Simon Kiernan and Paddy Thompson are gradually developing into quite a formidable force, with the physically strong Kiernan impressive on this occasion, and he received fine support from Thompson as they made a most significant contribution to the latest Killoe victory watched by an attendance in the region of 1,200.
Apart from Padraig McCormack, the influential All-Star nominee Michael Quinn also made the desired impact in such a tight Killoe defensive unit with Joe McCormack and Daniel Keogh also much to the fore and all the backs played consistently well in restricting the O’Mahony’s attack (who sorely missed injured centre-half-forward Alan Forde) to just five scores from play.
The visitors (also minus the services of long term casualties Kevin Reilly and Mark Ward) were looking quite good when they held a slender 0-3 to 0-2 lead after 12 minutes of the first half with their scores coming from Jake Regan (2) and Paddy Smyth while Michael Quinn (from a well struck ‘45’ in the third minute) and Sean McCormack (free) were on target for Killoe.
But the Longford champions gradually stepped up another couple of gears to lead by 0-7 to 0-4 at the break with their other five scores (all fine efforts from play) coming from Eugene Clarke, Mark Hughes, Sean McCormack, Ronan McGoldrick and Denis McGoldrick and Young Emmets should have been further in front as they missed some other good chances.
Navan O’Mahony’s solitary reply came from Stephen Bray in the 20th minute and their hopes were dashed when they conceded the two goals in the early stages of the second half against a sharp Killoe side who showed a lot more urgency in their fierce desire to win the ball and played some excellent football in the process of their usual high intensity game.
And so a very exciting year for Longford football is finishing on a real high as Killoe Young Emmets march on to a Leinster semi-final showdown against a vastly experienced Portlaoise outfit who hammered the Wicklow champions St. Patrick’s 3-15 to 0-4 in Aughrim on Sunday last but who knows what might happen at O’Moore Park on Sunday November 25th.
KILLOE YOUNG EMMETS: Cillian Burns; Darragh Bennett, Padraig McCormack, Daniel Keogh; Shane Dowd, Joe McCormack (0-1), Michael Quinn (1-1, point from ‘45’); Paddy Thompson, Simon Kiernan (1-0); Daniel Mimnagh, Ronan McGoldrick (0-3), Eugene Clarke (0-1); Mark Hughes (0-1), Denis McGoldrick (0-2), Sean McCormack (0-4, two frees).
Sub:- Ronan Keogh for S Dowd (injured, 39 mins).
NAVAN O’MAHONY’S: Marcus Brennan; Stephen O’Toole, Niall McKeigue, Ian Matthews; Brian Dillon, Shane Crosby, Gary O’Brien; Damien Moran, Cormac McGuinness; Paddy Smyth (0-1), Henry Finnegan, Shane Gillespie (0-1); Jake Regan (0-3, one ‘45’), Stephen Bray (0-3, two frees), Stephen MacGabhann.
Subs:- David Bray for H Finnegan (half-time); Sean Keating for B Dillon (half-time); Barry Regan for D Moran (35 mins); Cormac Reilly for S MacGabhann (43 mins); Darragh Smyth for J Regan (51 mins).
Referee: Gary McCormack (Dublin).