Longford hurlers looking good to win league title

Luke Kelly on the attack for Longford against Sligo during their round 3 meeting in the National Hurling Division 3B on Sunday last at Pearse Park. Photo: Ray Donlon
An excellent first half of hurling set Longford on their way to a comprehensive win over Sligo in their final National League Division 3B game at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday last.

An excellent first half of hurling set Longford on their way to a comprehensive win over Sligo in their final National League Division 3B game at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday last.

In what was a dress rehearsal for the Divisional final, Longford were ruthless in attack and resilient in defence as they put in a fantastic team performance. If they can repeat it against Sligo on Sunday April 14th they are looking good to win the Division 3B title.

Under the guidance of Wexford native Frank Browne (now in his second season in charge), Longford have been terrific in this year’s league campaign. They have been hard working and committed in every game. What a huge difference between this year and last and the current squad have certainly given a reason why hurling should be given more respect in the county.

Longford made a blistering start to Sunday’s game and scored 1-1 inside the opening 4 minutes. John Newman got the first goal in the 3rd minute after receiving the ball from Kevin Conneely and then Eoin Donnellan followed up with a free one minute later.

Sligo’s first real attack saw Gary Waldron bring a save out of Longford keeper Eanna Daly but Longford quickly regained the upper hand and slotted over three points in a row; two Joe O’Brien frees and a free from Eoin Donnellan.

The visitors finally got off the mark in the 19th minute; Waldron with the point but Longford responded with points from Donnellan (free) and a very good score from Conneely. Waldron got Sligo’s second point in the 22nd minute from a free.

Points were then traded between Donnellan (free) and Liam Reidy (free) before Longford took complete control 10 minutes from the break. Conneely was on target again in the 25th minute and then Declan Tanner scored Longford’s second goal from a free four minutes later. O’Brien, who was involved in a lot of Longford’s scores, set up Luke Kelly for a point in the 31st minute and two minutes from half-time Tanner found the back of the net again from another free to give Longford a commanding fifteen points lead, 3-9 to 0-3.

Sligo got the first score of the second half; a point from Conor O’Mahony but Longford replied in superb fashion; O’Brien getting the goal his performance deserved and then Tanner followed up with a free to stretch Longford’s advantage to 18 points in the 51st minute.

The game was well and truly all over as a contest and Sligo were now playing damage limitation and trying to get some scores to make it look more respectable. In the 56th minute they got a goal; Ciaran Brennan shot was blocked by a Longford defender and the ball came back out to Brennan who made no mistake in finding the back of the net at the second attempt.

But Longford hit back with further points from Joe O’Brien and a Declan Tanner brace (one free) to run out very easy winners and Sligo’s tale of woe was complete when their goalscorer Brennan was sent-off after receiving a straight red card.

LONGFORD: Eanna Daly; Rory Breslin, Paudie McGarry, Gerard Moore; Conor Egan, John Gaffney, Brendan Stakem; Paul Barden jnr, Karl Murray; Eoin Donnellan (0-4, all frees), Kevin Conneely (0-2), Declan Tanner (2-3, frees, 1 point from play); Luke Kelly (0-1), John Newman (1-0), Joe O’Brien (1-3, 2 frees).

Subs:- Kealan Cox for E Donnellan (half-time); Dean Connolly for R Breslin (56 mins); Paddy Corcoran for L Kelly (65 mins); John Mulhern for J O’Brien (69 mins).

SLIGO: Declan Reidy; Fiachra Coyne, Ronan Cox, Thomas Cawley; Jamie Kenny, Liam Reidy (0-1, free), Ethan McGowan; Kevin Gilmartin, David Collery; Michael Gilmartin, Ciaran Brennan (1-0), Niall Cadden; Gary Waldron (0-2, 1 free), John Kelly, Conor O’Mahony (0-1).

Subs:- Aidan Morrison for F Coyne (42 mins); Gary Cadden for C O’Mahony (46 mins); Tom Conneely for N Cadden (55 mins); Michael Connolly for J Kelly (69 mins); Matthew Davey for M Gilmartin (69 mins).

Referee: John Keane (Galway).