‘Happy days are here again’ - Longford's 2000 O'Byrne Cup Final triumph over Westmeath

‘Happy days are here again’ - Longford's 2000 O'Byrne Cup Final triumph over Westmeath

Poster that appeared in The Star newspaper twenty years ago when Longford last won the O'Byrne Cup Picture: Twitter Cathal McGuinness @c1mcguinness

The last occasion Longford savoured O’Byrne Cup senior football glory was on Sunday, February 6, 2000 when they defeated neighbours Westmeath by 2-6 to 0-7 before an attendance of almost 10,000 at Cusack Park, Mullingar.

Also read: Manager Padraic Davis says Longford will ‘give it their best shot’ against Offaly in O’Byrne Cup Final

‘Happy days are here again’ and ‘Back from the wilderness’ proclaimed the headlines on the Leader the following Wednesday morning as acting captain Cathal Conefrey became the first Longford man since Vincent Daly, captain of the 1968 Leinster Championship winning side, to accept a Leinster trophy.

Niall Sheridan’s 10th minute goal ensured Longford led by 1-4 to 0-1 at the interval. Westmeath gradually battled back into contention and after 60 minutes they were just two points adrift, 0-6 to 1-5.

Longford, taking confidence from their previous victories in the tournament, dug deep and they spiritedly quelled their opponents fightback with a magnificent 64th minute Paul Barden point - the Clonguish star profiting from the excellent approach play of Liam Keenan and Padraic Davis.

With momentum now favouring them, Longford put the icing on the cake as Trevor Smullen guided a dipping 69th minute shot to the onion bag and sealed a first O’Byrne Cup title since 1965.

Prior to the final, Michael McCormack’s Longford charges had three home assignments where they accounted for Kildare (3-12 to 0-13 on January 9), Dublin (0-20 to 1-16 after extra time on January 16) and Offaly (0-14 to 0-12 on January 23).

Longford team and scorers from the final; Gavin Tonra (Colmcille); Padraic Jones (Dromard), Donal Ledwith (Abbeylara), Brendan Burke (Clonguish); Martin Mulleady (Fr Manning Gaels), David Blessington (Granard), Cathal Conefrey (Dromard); Liam Keenan (Ardagh), Enda Barden (Clonguish, captain, 0-3 frees); Padraic Brady (Fr Manning Gaels), Paul Barden (Clonguish, 0-2), Paul Ross (Legan); Trevor Smullen (Ballymahon, 1-0), Niall Sheridan (Abbeylara, 1-0), Padraic Davis (Fr Manning Gaels, 0-1).

Subs.: Aidan Keogh (Killoe) for P Ross (48 mins), Sean Hagan (Dromard) for P Brady (63 mins), Enda Ledwith (Abbeylara) for N Sheridan (71 mins).

Also read: Local stars honoured at Longford GAA Team of the Championship and player of the year awards

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