Robbie Smyth scored the decisive goal with eight minutes gone in the second half as Longford produced a fine performance to knock Kildare out of the O’Byrne Cup.
Longford . . . 1-14 Kildare . . . 0-13
An attendance in the region of 600 gathered in the cold at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park to watch the home county finish top of Group 2 with this deserved win and clinch a crack at Meath in the semi-final of the Leinster senior football tournament at Pairc Tailteann, Navan on Sunday next (2pm).
A most pleasing aspect of the performance on Sunday was the determined manner in which Longford battled back from 0-7 to 0-4 down in the closing stages of the first half to eventually come out on top by four points.
Kildare held a narrow 0-9 to 0-8 lead at the break but Longford (minus the injured Ronan McEntire and flu victim Pauric Gill from the team that lined-out against Louth the previous week) upped the tempo to enjoy a dominant spell in the early stages of the second half that yielded a goal and three points in the space of seven minutes.
Sean McCormack converted a couple of frees while Rian Brady also shot over the bar. Robbie Smyth hit the net at the second attempt, after the opposing netminder Mark Donnellan had stopped his initial point-blank shot, and that left Longford in a fairly comfortable 1-11 to 0-9 advantage.
While Kildare closed the gap to the minimum of margins after firing over four points in a row through Fionn Dowling (2), Luke Flynn and Tommy Moolick, the pressure was eased on Longford when Rian Brady landed a terrific score in the 56th minute.
It took a crucial save by Paddy Collum moments later to prevent David Hyland from getting the lead goal for Kildare and Longford managed to consolidate their grip on the game with a brace of late points from impressive substitute Rian Brady making absolutely certain of this encouraging victory over quite a strong Kildare squad.
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum (Fr Manning Gaels); Patrick Fox (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s), Padraig McCormack (Killoe Emmet Og), Peter Foy (Longford Slashers); Michael Quinn (Killoe Emmet Og), Barry Gilleran (Longford Slashers), Barry McKeon (Colmcille); Darren Gallagher (St Mary’s Granard), Conor Berry (Abbeylara); Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connolly’s, 0-1), Andrew Farrell (Cashel), Daniel Mimnagh (Killoe Emmet Og); Robbie Smyth (Abbeylara, 1-4, two points from frees), Sean McCormack (0-5, three frees), Daryl Carrigy (Ardagh/Moydow).
Subs used (unlimited):- Rian Brady (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s, 0-4) for D Carrigy (25 mins); Jayson Matthews (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s) for R Smyth (injured, 47 mins); Darren Quinn (Clonguish) for P Foy (52 mins); David McGivney (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s) for A Farrell (55 mins); Shane Donohue (Rathcline) for B Gilleran (60 mins); Cillian Lee (St Brigid’s Killashee) for D Reynolds (63 mins); James McGivney (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s) for D Mimnagh (69 mins); Peter Hanley (Clonguish) for D Gallagher (69 mins); Killian Farrell (Ardagh/Moydow) for R Brady (two minutes into stoppage time); Cathal Reilly (Colmcille) and A Farrell for C Berry and M Quinn (four minutes into stoppage time).
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Peter Kelly, Mikey Kelly, Mark Hyland; Alan McDermott, Eoin Doyle, Cian O’Donoghue; Kevin Feely (0-4, frees), Tommy Moolick (0-1); Ruadhan O’Giollain, Daniel Flynn (0-2), Paul Cribbin (0-2); Jimmy Hyland, Eamon Callaghan, Eoin Lawless (0-1).
Subs used (unlimited):- Paddy Brophy for D Flynn (27 mins); Johnny Byrne for E Doyle (injured, 31 mins); Neil Flynn for J Hyland (injured, 33 mins); D Flynn for P Brophy (black card, four minutes into first half stoppage time); Paschal Connell for R O’Giollain (half-time); Keith Cribbin for C O’Donoghue (half-time); Chris Hand, David Hyland and Fionn Dowling (0-2) for E Callaghan, A McDermott and E Lawless (44 mins); Luke Flynn (0-1) and David Slattery for K Feely and P Cribbin (51 mins).
Referee: Chris Dwyer (Offaly).