The 2012 Fr. Manning Cup U-16 Football Tournament got under way at Pairc na nGael, Dromard on Wednesday evening of last week with Longford scoring a convincing win over Leitrim and the home county got off to a flying start when full-forward Aidan McElligott fired home a well struck goal in the early stages of the game.
Just two minutes were gone on the clock when midfielder David McGivney let the ball into fellow Mullinalaghta clubman McElligott (both members of the county minor team this year) and Aidan proceeded to plant a cracking shot in the back of the net. While that was a significant setback for Leitrim they managed to remain in contention for most of the first half.
Inspired by their impressive midfielder Mark Plunkett who landed three excellent points from play, the visitors only trailed by 1-4 to 0-5 with five minutes of the first half remaining but the superior Longford side then stepped up another gear to enjoy a glorious spell that yielded six scores on the trot through Rian Brady (2), Shane Kenny (2), Michael Corcoran and Nigel Rabbitte.
That decisive dominant period more or less put the issue beyond all doubt and lively corner-forward Brady was particularly impressive in the first half with 0-4 (one free) to his credit while the other Longford points came from Rabbitte (‘45’) and Kenny, the latter starting at centrefield but who was switched to full-forward and the Lanesboro lad made the desired impact.
Also on target for Leitrim in the first half were David Mulvey and Gary Fowley and it was a real uphill battle for the Connacht county on the changeover with Longford holding a comfortable 1-10 to 0-5 lead at the break.
It was somewhat against the run of play that the home side extended their advantage with a point from Jamie King in the 39th minute and while Leitrim then staged a brief rally to register three scores in a row through Luke Murphy (free), Conor Gaffney and Evan Ward they had a lucky escape when industrious Longford wing forward King was denied a goal after hitting the crossbar in the 43rd minute.
Scores were then exchanged between Aidan McElligott (free) and Leitrim substitute Cathal McTiernan and Longford got on top again in adding three more points to their tally through commanding midfielder David McGivney, Ronan Duffy and Rian Brady to run out emphatic winners in the finish.
While Luke Murphy missed a glorious goal chance for Leitrim in the 53rd minute when shooting wide from close range, Longford substitute Ciaran Donohoe had a good opportunity to find the back of the net soon after but his point-blank shot was saved by the opposing keeper Jason Farry.
Longford’s next outing in the Fr. Manning Cup is another home game against Westmeath this Wednesday evening at Devine Park in Edgeworthstown (throw-in 7.30pm) and the management team of Tony Devlin (Clonguish), John Coyle (Mostrim) and Finbarr Meehan (Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s) will be hoping for another win.
LONGFORD: Luke Meehan (Northern Gaels); Eoin Higgins (Granard/Ballymore), Ronan Sweeney (Clonguish), Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connolly’s); Aaron Earley (Northern Gaels), Darragh Gilna (Killoe), Alan Sorohan (Clonguish); David McGivney (Northern Gaels, 0-1), Shane Kenny (Rathcline, 0-3); Jamie King (Killoe, 0-1), Ronan Duffy (Clonguish, 0-1), Nigel Rabbitte (Northern Gaels, 0-2, one ‘45’); Rian Brady (Northern Gaels, 0-5, one free), Aidan McElligott (Northern Gaels, 1-1, point from free), Michael Corcoran (Clonguish, 0-1).
Subs:- Ciaran Donohoe (Killoe) for M Corcoran (47 mins); Mark Tully (Granard/Ballymore) for E Higgins (53 mins); Enda Macken (Colmcille) for R Duffy (59 mins).
LEITRIM: Jason Farry; Oisin Madden, Philip Dolan, Jerome Maguire; Liam Ryan, Dean McGovern, Shane McGowan; Evan Ward (0-1), Mark Plunkett (0-3); Francis McNabola, David Mulvey (0-1), Keith Keegan; Luke Murphy (0-1, free), Conor Gaffney (0-1), Gary Fowley (0-1).
Subs:- Hugh Moylan for K Keegan (20 mins); Cathal McTiernan (0-1) for G Fowley (42 mins); Enda Moreton for F McNabola (48 mins); Gerard McDermott for P Dolan (57 mins).
Referee: Paul Daly (Roscommon).