Longford were eliminated from the Nicky Rackard Cup Senior Hurling Championship as dominant Donegal ran riot to win by the wide margin of 21 points in the Round 2B losers section game at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday last.
After losing out to Monaghan in Round 1 the previous week, this was always going to be a very difficult task against a Donegal side who play in two divisions higher in the National League and so it proved as Ray Gavin’s charges crashed to a heavy defeat and now face Louth in a relegation play-off on Saturday May 23rd.
Donegal were a much stronger side with some excellent players, particularly chief marksman Ciaran Mattewson who clocked up 1-15 on Saturday last, and while Longford can make no excuses about losing they were upset by the officiating as they were hit by a number of harsh decisions made by referee Justin Heffernan.
Longford finished the game with 13 men with Benny Stakem getting a straight red card in the first half while Cian Kavanagh was dismissed for a second yellow card near the finish.
The home county made a decent start to the game and two frees (one superb long range strike) from Eoin Donnellan were the opening points.
Mattewson fired over Donegal’s first score in the 8th minute and soon after they got their first goal through Ronan McDermott. They added on two more points before McDermott was on target again with his second goal to leave the visitors ahead by seven points in the 14th minute.
The lead was stretched to 10 points by the 20th minute with Mattewson their main man. A good point from Martin Coyle was Longford’s first point in 17 minutes before Matthewson was on target again from a free.
In the 26th minute there was some pushing and shoving which ended up with Longford full-back Benny Stakem receiving a straight red card. A free was awarded which Matthewson converted.
Eoin Donnellan and Johnny Casey added fine points for Longford but Donegal then fired over three points in a row. Donnellan (free) was the final score of the first half as Longford trailed by 11 points going in at the break, 2-11 to 0-6, and the game virtually over as a contest.
Longford pulled a goal back in the 42nd minute when Joe O’Brien found the back of the net but Donegal replied with points from Sean McVeigh and Ronan McDermott (two).
Eoin Donnellan (free) and Martin Coyle then scored points for Longford before Donegal got their fourth goal and it came after the home side felt they should have been awarded a free.
Longford were further aggrieved when Joe O’Brien was fouled and should have been awarded a penalty but instead the referee gave a free out and booked O’Brien for questioning the decision.
Donegal ended the game well in adding five more points to the tally and Longford’s tale of woe was complete when Cian Kavanagh was sent-off.
LONGFORD: Dara Duggan; Gerard Moore, Brendan Stakem, Conor Flanagan; John Gaffney, Bart Hanley, Karl Murray; Johnny Casey (0-1), Paul Barden jnr; Kealan Cox, Martin Coyle (0-2), Luke Kelly; Cian Kavanagh, Joe O’Brien (1-0), Eoin Donnellan (0-6, 4 frees).
Subs:- Aidan Sheridan for K Cox (41 mins); Stephen Farrell for J Gaffney (53 mins); Reuben Murray for E Donnellan (66 mins); Jamie Rosney for J O’Brien (68 mins).
DONEGAL: Paul Burns; Johnny Downey, Jamesie Donnelly, Mark Callaghan; Christopher McDermott, Joe Boyle, Niall Cleary; Danny Cullen (0-1), Paul Sheridan; Jack O’Loughlin, Enda McDermott, Sean McVeigh (1-1); Ciaran Matthewson (1-15, 8 frees), Ronan McDermott (2-2), Bernard Lafferty (0-2).
Subs:- Ciaran Kilgannon for P Sheridan (39 mins); Eddie Lynch for E McDermott (54 mins); Chris Kilgannon for J Downey (58 mins); Brendan Tourish for J Boyle (62 mins); Justin Brown for B Lafferty (67 mins).
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Wexford).