Rian Brady, who scored two points for Longford in the first half of the Leinster SFC quarter-final against Meath at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park.
Much to the sheer delight of their supporters in the official attendance of 5,591 who crammed into Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday, Longford scored a famous win over Meath to reach the Leinster Senior Football Championship semi-final for the first time in 30 years.
Longford . . . 0-16 Meath . . . 0-14
Make no mistake about it, this was a richly deserved surprise success for Longford and their reward is a crack at Dublin at Croke Park on Sunday June 10 with the rampant All-Ireland champions cruising to a runaway 4-25 to 1-11 win over Wicklow in the remaining quarter-final.
So for the first time in a sixth season in charge of the county senior footballers there was joy for Denis Connerton who is celebrating a first ever win in the Leinster SFC Championship during his time as manager and he must have been thrilled with the so determined manner in which his players stood up to the task in producing a great display against a fancied Meath side.
Deadlocked at 0-7 apiece at the break with both sides squandering clear-cut goal chances in the first half, Longford stepped up another gear on the changeover and established a fairly comfortable 0-14 to 0-10 lead thanks to points from Dessie Reynolds, Darren Gallagher, James McGivney (2), David McGivney (free), Daniel Mimnagh and Robbie Smyth.
Meath were rattled and they suffered a serious setback in the 55th minute when left-half-back Shane McEntee received a straight red card for a robust challenge on Rian Brady.
When a speculative long range kick from Conor Berry hopped over the bar in the 58th minute there appeared to be no way back for the 14 men of Meath but they showed a lot of character in a spirited revival to close the gap to just a solitary point (0-15 to 0-14).
The four scores in a row came from Donal Lenihan (free), defender Sean Curran and substitutes Eamon and Joey Wallace and with 68 minutes gone on the clock it looked like Longford were about to let the victory slip from their grasp.
The most exciting finish provided a lot of nervous tension, particularly for the home followers, and were it not for a brilliant point-blank save by Paddy Collum to deflect a goalbound shot from Eamon Wallace over the bar in the 65th minute it might have been a different story.
Having said that, James McGivney missed a glorious chance of a goal for Longford in the first minute of stoppage time when his shot was cleared off the line by Meath full-back Conor McGill but moments later a terrific strike from substitute Sean McCormack clinched a first win over Meath in the Leinster SFC since 1982.
So the Longford supporters, who really got behind their team at Pearse Park on Sunday in stressing the importance of home advantage, can now look forward to a trip to Croke Park in a couple of weeks time to watch their county in action against Dublin and on the same bill is the other semi-final between Laois and Carlow, the latter scoring a shock win over Kildare.
The seven Longford points in the first half were registered by James McGivney (2), Rian Brady (2), Paddy Collum (‘45) and Darren Gallagher (2).
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum (Fr Manning Gaels, 0-1, ‘45); Padraig McCormack (Killoe Emmet Og), Michael Quinn (Killoe Emmet Og), Patrick Fox (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s); Donal McElligott (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s, captain), Diarmuid Masterson (Dromard), Daniel Mimnagh (Killoe Emmet Og, 0-1); Ronan McEntire (Dromard), Conor Berry (Abbeylara, 0-1); Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connolly’s, 0-1), Darren Gallagher (St Mary’s Granard, 0-3), David McGivney (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s, 0-1, free); Robbie Smyth (Abbeylara, 0-1), James McGivney (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s, 0-4), Rian Brady (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s, 0-2).
Subs:- Sean McCormack (Killoe Emmet Og, 0-1) for R Smyth (injured, 66 mins); Liam Connerton (Rathcline) for R Brady and Peter Foy (Longford Slashers) for D McGivney (three minutes into stoppage time); Barry Gilleran (Longford Slashers) for D Mimnagh (four minutes into stoppage time).
MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Sean Curran (0-1); James McEntee, Donal Keogan (0-1), Shane McEntee; Bryan Menton (0-1), Paddy Kennelly (0-2); Cillian O’Sullivan, Ben Brennan (0-1), Mickey Burke (0-1); Bryan McMahon, Graham Reilly (0-3), Donal Lenihan (0-2, frees).
Subs:- Daniel O’Neill for P Kennelly (46 mins); Joey Wallace (0-1) for B Brennan (54 mins); Eamon Wallace (0-1) for C O’Sullivan (58 mins); Thomas O’Reilly for B McMahon (68 mins).
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).
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