Longford scored a shock win over a strongly fancied Meath side in the quarter-final of the Leinster U-21 Football Championship that was eventually decided after extra-time in the difficult wet and windy conditions at Pairc Tailteann in Navan on Wednesday night.
Cadbury’s Leinster U-21 Football Championship Quarter-Final
Longford . . . . . . . 0 – 17 Meath . . . . . . . 2 – 9 (After Extra-Time)
Despite having much the better of the exchanges in the first half with the advantage of the strong wind, the underdogs Longford had to be content with a five-point lead at the break, 0-8 to 1-0, after kicking a total of nine wides.
A soft goal was conceded in the 11th minute when a dipping shot from Meath corner-forward Mark Battersby ended up in the back of the net but Longford recovered from that setback to regain the upper hand.
Their first half points came from John Keegan (2), Padraig Gill (2), JJ Matthews, Robbie Smyth (free), James McGivney (free) and Marty Mulvey but Meath, as expected, came storming back in the second half with the aid of the strong wing and hit the front with time running out after scoring eight points.
But Longford snatched a deserved draw (0-11 to 1-8) when Robbie Smyth kept his composure to slot over the equalising point in the final minute of normal time and despite conceding a second goal when Meath’s chief marksman Andrew Tormey (who scored 1-4) converted a penalty in extra-time the Padraic Davis managed midlanders eventually emerged victorious.
Longford added six more points to their tally in extra-time, a brace apiece from Robbie Smyth, JJ Matthews and Padraig Gill, and can now look forward to a floodlit semi-final showdown against neighbouring rivals Westmeath at a neutral venue on Wednesday night, March 23rd.
MEATH: Conor McHugh; Cian McPartland, Sean Curran, Willie Ryan; Donal Keogan, Ciaran Lenehan (0-1), Mark O’Sullivan (0-1); Jamie Owens, Bryan Menton; Paddy Gilsenan (0-1), Darragh Smyth (0-1), David Larkin; Andrew Tormey (1-4, goal from penalty, all points from frees), Niall Murphy, Mark Battersby (1-0).
Subs:- Sean Dalton (0-1) for D Larkin (39 mins); Shane Gillespie for J Owens (44 mins); Willie Carry for N Murphy (52 mins); Conor Deveraux for M Battersby (55 mins).
Extra-Time: Sean Tobin for D Smyth.
LONGFORD: Paddy Columb (Fr. Manning Gaels); James Carroll (Rathcline), Fergal Battrim (Abbeylara), Aaron Quinn (Fr. Manning Gaels); Shane Mahon (Abbeylara), Colm P Smith (Abbeylara), Diarmuid Cooney (Fr. Manning Gaels); Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon), John Keegan (Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s, 0-3); Padraig McCormack (Killoe Young Emmets), Padraig Gill (Fr. Manning Gaels, 0-4), Peter Reynolds (Dromard); James McGivney (Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s, 0-1, free), Darren Gallagher (Granard St. Mary’s), JJ Matthews (Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s, 0-4).
Subs:- Robbie Smyth (Abbeylara, 0-4, two frees) for P Reynolds (16 mins); Marty Mulvey (Carrickedmond, 0-1) for D Gallagher (26 mins); Fergal Reilly (Fr. Manning Gaels) for S Mahon (50 mins); Paul Devine (Longford Slashers) for J Carroll (55 mins).
Extra-Time: D Gallagher for J Keegan and Conor Keegan (Forgney St. Munis) for JJ Matthews (both in the closing stages).
Referee: Paul Kneel (Louth).