Longford – 2-13
Roscommon – 1-11
Longford U-21s booked their place in the Hastings Cup semi-final against Leitrim after they came from behind and ultimately had five points to spare, 2-13 to 1-11, over neighbours Roscommon in their final Group 2 game played at McGann Park, Kenagh on Friday night.
Longford, who in their earlier games defeated Cavan (1-12 to 1-8) and drew with Westmeath (2-10 to 1-13), will have the benefit of home advantage for that penultimate round tie next weekend while the second semi-final will see Meath take on Cavan.
Longford’s semi-final opponents Leitrim were impressive 2-14 to 2-8 winners over Offaly on Saturday afternoon last. It came after Leitrim recorded a comprehensive 3-14 to 1-10 win over Wicklow earlier in the tournament following their 0-14 to 3-15 defeat to Meath.
Frank McNamee’s side were sluggish in the opening quarter of this game as Roscommon opened up a five point lead, 1-2 to nil. The Rossies had lost their previous two games in this competition against Cavan and Westmeath but you wouldn’t have thought it as they played good football in the opening exchanges.
In those opening 15 minutes Longford’s Peter Lynn and Roscommon’s Gearoid Keenan were both black carded. Keenan was a huge loss for his side.
Roscommon’s Hubert Darcy got the opening score of the match in the 2nd minute before Eoin McCormack followed up with another point. Longford’s Peter Lynn was black carded in the 9th minute and four minutes later Roscommon were five ahead, 1-2 to nil, when Cian McKeon’s effort deflected off a Longford player and ended up in the net.
After their poor start, Longford were back in business by the 16th minute when the excellent Shane Kenny rattled the twine. Eoin McCormack replied with a Roscommon point before Longford gained control and stamped their authority on proceedings. Three points in a row, per Russell Brady and Shane Kenny (2), levelled matters before Darragh Doherty put them ahead for the first time in the 28th minute, 1-4 to 1-3.
Longford got their second goal in the 29th minute; Kenny delivered an inch perfect ball in and who else but the prolific Aidan McElligott got a flick to it to raise the green flag. A neat Joe Kelly point gave Longford a 2-5 to 1-3 cushion going in at the break.
Just like he did from the first half throw-in, Roscommon’s Hubert Darcy grabbed the opening score of the concluding half before the talented Abbeylara Brady brothers, Cian and Russell, replied with points for Longford as they extended their lead to six points in the 36th minute, 2-7 to 1-4.
Roscommon managed to reduce the arrears to four points in the 39th minute as Aidan Brogan and Darcy found the range, 2-7 to 1-6.
Longford however replied defiantly with points from the lively Darragh Doherty (two) and one apiece from substitutes David McGivney and Rian Brady, 2-11 to 1-6. The Mullinalaghta lads certainly made a significant impact after their introduction in the 40th minute.
Roscommon badly needed a score and Cian McKeon fired over a nice point in the 56th minute. Corner back Cian Brady replied for Longford. Roscommon then hit over two quick-fire points through McKeon and sub Aengus Lyons as they tried to cut into Longford’s lead, 2-12 to 1-9.
The visitors needed a goal and piled on the pressure in their quest for one but Longford’s defence and in particular goalkeeper Micheál Hughes thwarted them on a few occasions near the end.
Rian Brady registered Longford’s final point in the 60th minute before Aengus Lyons responded with two late consolation points for Roscommon - a third defeat for the Rossie’s while Longford safely progress to the last four.
LONGFORD: Micheál Hughes (Killoe Emmet Og); Cian Brady (Abbeylara, 0-2), Enda Macken (Colmcille), Conor Farrell (Cashel); Eoin Higgins (St Mary’s Granard), Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connolly’s), Russell Brady (Abbeylara, 0-2); Shane Kenny (Rathcline, 1-2,1f), Connor Berry (Abbeylara); Joe Kelly (Ballymahon, 0-1), Nigel Rabbitt (Abbeylara), Peter Lynn (Grattan Og); Cathal McCabe (Colmcille), Aidan McElligott (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s, 1-0), Darragh Doherty (Mostrim, 0-3).
Subs: Cillian Lee (St Brigid’s Killashee) for P Lynn bc (12 mins), David McGivney (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s, 0-1) for C Berry and Rian Brady (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s, 0-2) for C McCabe (40 mins), Robbie Clarke (Longford Slashers) for A McElligott (45 mins), Karl Farrell (Kenagh) for E Higgins (57 mins), Daryl Carrigy (Ardagh/Moydow) for D Doherty (58 mins), Ruairi Harkin (Colmcille) for C Lee (59 mins), Sean Kelly (Carrickedmond) for S Kenny (60+2mins).
ROSCOMMON: Richie Thompson; Mark Richardson, Keelan Beirne, Lorcan Daly; John Brennan, John Duffy, Michael Cox; Gearoid Keenan, James Fetherstone; Eoin McCormack (0-2), Conor Payne, Brian Stack; Hubert Darcy (0-3), Cian McKeon (1-2), Brian Kelly.
Subs: Conor Murray for G Keenan (15 mins, bc), Aidan Murray for Brian Kelly (23 mins), Aidan Brogan (0-1) for Conor Payne (23 mins), Jack Casey for C Murray (33 mins), Aengus Lyons (0-3) for M Cox (35 mins).
REFEREE: Conor Dourneen (Cavan).