While there was nothing at stake with the counties already through to the Fr. Manning Cup title decider and some regulars on both sides were rested as a result, it is Longford who remain unbeaten after completing the group stage of the U-16 tournament and they can look forward to the final at Pearse Park on Wednesday next, August 8th (throw-in 7.30pm) with considerable confidence after registering their fifth win in a row.
Having said that, this was basically a bout of ‘shadow boxing’ at the St. Barry’s grounds in Tarmonbarry on Wednesday evening last in the warm up to the real thing and Longford stepped up another gear in the second half to run out convincing winners in the finish.
Michael Corcoran provided the perfect pass for Jamie King to fire home a cracking goal with nine minutes gone on the changeover in giving the visitors a decisive edge and the speedy Killoe attacker proved to be a constant threat for the Roscommon defence.
At the other end of the pitch it was Alan Sorohan who stood out for Longford in producing a spirited performance, the highlight of which was a terrific catch in the full-back-line in the second half while the Clonguish lad also prevented a certain Roscommon goal when blocking a point-blank shot from Shane McCormack (Kilglass Gaels) in the early stages of the game.
Longford were guilty of kicking a lot of wides in the first half and trailed by 0-4 to 0-1 before Sean Costello set up a goal chance for Aidan McElligott and he burst through to plant the ball in the back of the net in the 23rd minute.
Roscommon ended up trailing by the minimum of margins, 1-3 to 0-5, at the break with all their scores coming from impressive midfielder Tom Butler while the Longford points were registered by Jamie King, Shane Kenny and Aidan McElligott.
A cause of concern for Longford was the shoulder injury sustained by Kenny that could keep him out of the final and the mentors were forced to replace the Rathcline player at half-time with regular midfielder David McGivney brought on.
Longford had much the better of the exchanges in the second half in outscoring the opposition 1-8 to 0-4 and the points were fired over by Sean Costello, defender Darragh Gilna, Barry McKiernan (2), Aidan McElligott (2 frees), Jamie King and McGivney while David Connaughton, Tom Butler (two frees) and John Gannon replied for Roscommon.
ROSCOMMON: Gary Mannion; Diarmuid Cunniffe, Martin Flannery, Dylan Mattimoe; Jason Martin, Killian Bannon, Eamon Cunnane; Damian Nolan, Tom Butler (0-7, four frees); Shane McCormack, Eoin Fallon, James McDonald; John Gannon (0-1), Thomas Halligan, David Connaughton (0-1).
Subs:- Kenny O’Beirne for D Cunniffe (54 mins); Aaron O’Reilly for D Mattimoe (54 mins); Aidan Brogan for S McCormack (54 mins); Thomas Greene for J McDonald (58 mins).
LONGFORD: Shane Bannon (Southern Gaels); Gary Gallagher (Rathcline), Ronan Sweeney (Clonguish), Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connolly’s); Alan Sorohan (Clonguish), Darragh Gilna (Killoe, 0-1), Enda Macken (Colmcille); Aidan McElligott (Northern Gaels, 1-3, two points from frees), Shane Kenny (Rathcline, 0-1); Jamie King (Killoe, 1-2), Barry McKiernan (Northern Gaels, 0-2), Nigel Rabbitte (Northern Gaels); Rioch Farrell (Carrick Sarsfields), Michael Corcoran (Clonguish), Sean Costello (Longford Slashers, 0-1).
Subs:- David McGivney (Northern Gaels, 0-1) for S Kenny (injured, half-time); Luke Meehan (Northern Gaels) for R Sweeney (half-time); Mark Tully (Granard/Ballymore) for M Corcoran (40 mins); Rory Sullivan (Moydow) for R Farrell (48 mins); Andrew Cox (Kenagh St. Dominic’s) for G Gallagher (56 mins).
Referee: Ray McBrien (Leitrim).