Longford midfielder Daire O'Brien surging forward against Laois. Action from the Leinster U-17 Special Football Championship quarter-final at O'Moore Park last week. Photo: Declan Gilmore
With their confidence boosted by a fine win away to Wicklow in the opening round, the Longford U-17 footballers headed to O’Moore Park on Wednesday evening last week with a certain amount of hope but found the going too tough against a superior Laois side.
Laois . . . 2-15 Longford . . . 0-10
Trailing by the wide margin of eleven points at the break, 1-12 to 0-4, there was no way back for Karl Dermody’s charges in this quarter-final clash despite a spirited second half performance which yielded six more points.
The home county added another 1-3 to their emphatic tally and were content to sit on the cushion of their commanding advantage as they dealt with the handicap of having two players sent-off in the second half.
While Longford suffered the significant setback of losing midfielder Euan Finneran, who was forced to retire injured with just seven minutes gone in the game, they were well beaten in this rather one-sided encounter.
Laois had crushed the weak challenge of Louth by a landslide 33 points in the first round and were strongly fancied to reach the last four but it was Longford who began the brighter firing with the first two points through Cian Dooner and Oran Kenny.
But the visitors failed to score for the next 22 minutes as Laois stamped their authority on the match. A Niall Dunne free started the onslaught before Ronan Coffey bagged the first goal after good work from Mark Barry sent him through on goal.
Barry then added the second Laois point moments later before Ronan Coffey added a point to his goal, which was closely followed with further scores from Damien McCaul, Colin Slevin and another from Coffey.
In the 18th minute, Coffey brought his individual tally to 1-3 with another point from play with Dean Brophy and Jack Owens also getting their names on the score sheet, alongside a Barry free.
Longford eventually scored again with a point from Aidan McGuire but Damien McCaul and Niall Dunne (free) responded for Laois. Longford’s Dylan Farrell landed the last score of the first half but they were fighting a losing battle on the changeover.
A good start to the second half yielded another Longford point from Joseph Hagan before Damien McCaul replied for Laois who were reduced to 14 players when Ronan Coffey received his marching orders after being brandished with a second yellow card following an off the ball incident.
Longford gained a bit of confidence from this and Joseph Hagan shot over the bar to close the gap to nine points with twenty minutes left.
Another Laois player Jack Owens was then sent-off for a second yellow card offence as the winners ended up with 13 players on the pitch.
Oran Kenny then converted a free for Longford but Laois went on to notch the next three scores to make absolutely certain of the comprehensive victory.
Dunne fired over a free which was followed with a Barry point and then Dunne grabbed the second goal for Laois before Longford finished well to score three consolation points.
LAOIS: Niall Gorman; Michael Dowling, Sean O’Flynn, Alex Mohane; Killian Horgan, Gary Saunders, Colin Slevin (0-1); John Rogers, Andrew Swayne; Dean Brophy (0-1), Ronan Coffey (1-3), Damien McCaul (0-3); Mark Barry (0-3, one free), Niall Dunne (1-3, points from frees), Jack Owens (0-1).
Subs:- PJ Daly for D McCaul (41 mins); Josh Lacey for J Rogers (45 mins); Cathal Duggan for D Brophy (51 mins); Eoin O’Connor for K Horgan (56 mins); Cian Doyle for C Slevin (59 mins); Mark O’Connell for M Barry (59 mins).
LONGFORD: Eoin McGuinness (Longford Slashers); Michael McCann (Clonguish), Dylan Cassidy (Mostrim), Evan Farrelly (Killoe Emmet Og); Paulius Merkelis (Longford Slashers), Kian Gilmore (Rathcline, 0-1), Eoghan McCormack (Carrickedmond); Daire O’Brien (Longford Slashers), Euan Finneran (Killoe Emmet Og); Joseph Hagan (Dromard, 0-2), Aidan McGuire (Carrickedmond, 0-1), Diarmuid Sheehan (Longford Slashers); Dylan Farrell (St Brigid’s Killashee, 0-3, two frees), Cian Dooner (Killoe Emmet Og, 0-1), Oran Kenny (Rathcline, 0-2, one free).
Subs:- Darragh O’Connell (Longford Slashers) for E Finneran (injured, 7 mins); Luke McEntire (Dromard) for P Merkelis (15 mins), Cian O Nuallain (Longford Slashers) for D O’Connell (39 mins), Eoin Hawkins (Colmcille) for L McEntire (black card, 53 mins).
Referee: Fintan Pierce (Offaly).