Barry McKeon pictured in action for Longford.
After losing to Laois on Saturday evening, relegation is a serious threat for Longford who must get a positive result in their remaining league fixture away against Antrim to avoid the dreaded drop into Division 4 next season.
Allianz National Football League Division 3 - Round 6
Laois . . . . . . 1-13 Longford . . . . . 0-13
Because of their superior scores difference, a draw in Belfast on Sunday next will be good enough to secure Division 3 status for Longford but they will have to improve greatly on a poor second half performance in Portlaoise in the battle to survive.
Liam Connerton (ill) was unable to take his place on the team at O’Moore Park and he was replaced in the attack by Larry Moran with the Killoe forward shooting a couple of points in the first half, the second a very good chance of a goal just before the break when he was impeded by Laois defender Padraig McMahon.
Having said that, Longford keeper Paddy Collum came to the rescue when he saved a point-blank shot from Donie Kingston in the 18th minute and the always dangerous Laois full-forward produced a man of the match display with nine points (six frees) to his credit.
With Robbie Smyth kicking over three points from play and Michael Quinn, Sean McCormack (free) and John Keegan also on target, Longford led by 0-8 to 0-6 at half-time but Laois quickly wiped out the deficit with Donie Kingston converting four frees in the early stages of the second half.
Laois had to win to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation and with the advantage of the wind in the second half they showed the greater hunger to succeed with David Conway finding himself in a lot of room to score the crucial only goal in the 47th minute.
Conway blasted the ball to the roof of the net but moments earlier Robbie Smyth squandered a goal chance when a point would have left Longford on level terms after Sean McCormack converted a free.
Two brilliant scores from Alan Farrell and Donie Kingston extended the Laois advantage to six points (1-12 to 0-9) but they suffered a couple of blows when centre-half-back Colm Begley was forced to retire injured while attacker Evan O’Carroll was sent-off for a second yellow card offence in the 56th minute.
That gave Longford a glimmer of hope as they finally awoke from their second half slumber to register four points in a row with wing back Donal McElligott shooting over the bar to start the comeback in the 59th minute and three more scores followed from Robbie Smyth (two frees) to make it very interesting indeed.
The gap was now closed to just two points (1-12 to 0-13) with 67 minutes gone on the clock but Longford unfortunately were unable to get another score with Robbie Smyth dropping a free short into the arms of the Laois keeper Graham Brody deep into stoppage time.
The 14 men of Laois stuck it out for a vital victory with star man Donie Kingston making absolutely certain of the success when he converted a free in the sixth additional minute to cap a tremendous performance after making a rapid recovery from injury to torment Longford.
LAOIS: Graham Brody; Darren Strong (0-1, ‘45), Denis Booth, James Kelly; Eoin Buggie (0-1), Colm Begley, Padraig McMahon; John O’Loughlin, Kevin Meaney; Evan O’Carroll (0-1), David Conway (1-0), Niall Donoher; Alan Farrell (0-1), Donie Kingston (0-9, six frees), Paul Kingston.
Subs:- James Finn for C Begley (injured, 54 mins); Gareth Dillon for N Donoher (black card, 61 mins); Danny Luttrell for D Conway (five minutes into stoppage time).
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum (Fr Manning Gaels); Andrew Farrell (Cashel), Barry Gilleran (Longford Slashers), Dermot Brady (Longford Slashers); Donal McElligott (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s, 0-1), Padraig McCormack (Killoe Emmet Og), Barry O’Farrell (Carrickedmond); Darren Gallagher (St Mary’s Granard), John Keegan (Mullinalaghta St Columba's, 0-1); Barry McKeon (Colmcille), Larry Moran (Killoe Emmet Og, 0-2), James McGivney (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s); Robbie Smyth (Abbeylara, 0-6, two frees), Michael Quinn (Killoe Emmet Og, 0-1), Sean McCormack (Killoe Emmet Og, 0-2, frees).
Subs:- Diarmuid Masterson (Dromard) for B McKeon (half-time); Ronan McEntire (Dromard) for D Gallagher (59 mins); Brian Farrell (Mostrim) for B Gilleran (66 mins); Daniel Mimnagh (Killoe Emmet Og) for J Keegan (three minutes into stoppage time).
Referee: Jerome Henry (Mayo).