Longford’s promotion hopes almost gone following the defeat against Derry

Allianz National Football League Division 3 - Round 6

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Longford manager Padraic Davis speaking to the players following the defeat against Derry in the NFL Division 3 game at Celtic Park on Saturday

Longford’s promotion hopes are almost gone following the defeat against Derry in the National Football League Division 3 clash at Celtic Park on Saturday.

Derry . . .  2-14    Longford . . .  0-12

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With Leitrim unable to field due to Covid related issues in giving Down a walkover, Longford knew they had to get something out of this game and the absence of the unavailable Michael Quinn (who has decided to step away for the remainder of the 2020 inter-county season) was a significant blow.  

Going into the final round of fixtures on Sunday October 25, Down are two points ahead of both Derry and Longford and a draw against relegated Louth in Drogheda will suffice for the Mourne men to join the third tier league champions Cork in Division 2 next season.

Longford never really got going in ending up trailing by six points at the break, 1-7 to 0-4, but retaining the Division 3 status was the priority for manager Padraic Davis at the start of the season and that target was achieved with a couple of games to spare in this very competitive league. 

Derry made a great start with Ciaran McFaul, Padraig Cassidy and Shane McGuigan (excellent score) kicking over points in the opening 10 minutes.

A free converted by McGuigan extended the lead and Longford’s first score didn’t materialise until the 17th minute when Darren Gallagher slotted over a fine free.

Enda Lynn and Rian Brady traded points before Dessie Reynolds hit over an excellent point in the 26th minute to cut the gap to just two. 

Derry replied with points from Ethan Doherty and McFaul and struck a shattering blow in first half stoppage time with a goal from Patrick Kearney who made no mistake in finding the back of the net after receiving the perfect pass from Padraig Cassidy. 

Liam Connerton got a score for Longford just before the half-time whistle with the visitors behind by six points but the gap was closed with a strong start to the second half.

A point piece from Colm P Smyth and Rian Brady gave Longford a glimmer of hope and while Niall Loughlin replied for Derry, the game got a lot tighter following further scores from Darren Gallagher (free) and substitute Joseph Hagan.  

Derry got back on top to consolidate their lead and were in comfortable territory when they scored a decisive second goal in the 56th minute.

Niall Loughlin’s effort hit the post but the ball broke kindly for substitute Paul Cassidy who shot to the net to leave Longford trailing by seven points. 

Derry were denied a third goal in the 64th minute when Ethan Doherty’s low shot came  back off the post but the task of collecting both valuable league points was already complete.

Longford now take on Cork in their final Division 3 fixture at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park next weekend in the build up to the Leinster Championship first round clash against Louth at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar on Sunday November 1. 

DERRY: Odhran Lynch; Paul McNeill, Brendan Rogers (0-1), Conor Doherty (0-1); Carlus McWilliams, Chrissy McKaigue (0-1), Michael McEvoy; Ciaran McFaul (0-2), Padraig Cassidy (0-1); Ethan Doherty, Enda Lynn (0-1), Danny Tallon (0-1); Patrick Kearney (1-0), Shane McGuigan (0-2, 1f), Niall Loughlin (0-2, 1f)

SUBS:- Paul Cassidy (1-1) for P Kearney (52), Conor Glass for C McWilliams (55), Oisin McWilliams (0-1) for M McEvoy (61), Gavin O’Neill for D Tallon (69), Benny Heron for N Loughlin (70). 

LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Patrick Fox, Andrew Farrell, Barry O’Farrell; Colm P Smyth (0-2), Gary Rogers, Liam Hughes; Darren Gallagher (0-2, frees), Kevin Diffley; Donal McElligott, Daniel Mimnagh, Dessie Reynolds (0-1); Rian Brady (0-4, 2f), Liam Connerton (0-1), Oran Kenny.

SUBS:- Joseph Hagan (0-1) for D Mimnagh (43), Darragh Doherty (0-1) for L Hughes (49), Robbie Smyth for O Kenny (66), Larry Moran for R Brady (69). 

REFEREE: Sean Laverty (Antrim).