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24 May 2022

Longford exit Leinster championship as they succumb to goal hungry Westmeath in disappointing derby

Leinster Senior Football Championship quarter-final: Westmeath 3-13 Longford 0-14

Longford exit Leinster championship as they succumb to goal hungry Westmeath in disappointing derby

Darragh Doherty of Longford gets away from Jamie Gonoud of Westmeath Picture: Ben McShane / Sportsfile

Longford failed in their bid to secure a place in the Leinster senior football championship semi-final after they were crushed by neighbours Westmeath, 3-13 to 0-14, at rain swept TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar this Saturday evening. 

Leinster Senior Football Championship quarter-final: Westmeath 3-13 Longford 0-14

Goals from John Heslin, Ronan O'Toole and Robbie Forde condemned Billy O'Loughlin's charges to a heavy eight point reversal and the focus for Longford now turns to the inaugural Tailteann Cup.

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While Westmeath must await tomorrow night's live Leinster semi-final draw on The Sunday Game before they know their next opponents.

Longford established an early 0-3 to 0-1 lead but they were comprehensively outplayed afterwards as Westmeath held all the aces. Ruthless Westmeath were 1-9 to 0-4 ahead at half time and although Longford enjoyed a purple patch in the second half where they scored six points on-the-trot, the outcome was never really in any doubt. 

Westmeath manager Jack Cooney made two late changes to his starting team with Ger Egan and Luke Loughlin sprung in place of Ronan O’Toole and Lorcan Dolan, respectively. 

Longford manager Billy O'Loughlin with a few words of advice for debut boy Daniel Reynolds
Picture: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Buoyed by their 0-14 to 0-10 away win over Westmeath in the third round of the Allianz National Football League, Billy O’Loughlin’s Longford side were fast out of the traps and inside ten minutes they were 0-3 to 0-1 in front as Daniel Reynolds (making his senior inter-county championship debut), captain Michael Quinn and Dessie Reynolds were on target. 

Alex Gardiner landed the home side’s opening point in the 8th minute, and in the twenty plus minutes, between the 11th and 31st minutes, Westmeath were absolutely rampant as they reeled off an unanswered 1-8 and this vicious eleven points swing, gave them a 1-9 to 0-3 advantage. 

Gardiner contributed two further points during that glorious spell for Westmeath, with the mercurial leader of their attack John Heslin helping himself to 1-4 and Nigel Harte also weighed in with two points.

The Westmeath goal arrived in the 28th minute. Gardiner’s initial attempt was well saved and in true predatory style, Heslin pounced on the rebound and left Paddy Collum’s net dangling. 

Longford were just three points adrift, 0-3 to 0-6, when they were extremely unfortunate not to bag a desperately needed 22nd minute goal. Oran Kenny delivered in a probing delivery and Jayson Matthews’ fisted attempt went to safety off Jason Daly’s crossbar. A goal at that stage would have given the visitors a badly needed fillip of confidence, however, it was the Lake County who continued to pile on the misery.

Longford’s lengthy wait for their fourth point ended in the 34th minute as midfielder Darren Gallagher converted a free and at half-time it meant Longford were eight points in arrears, 1-9 to 0-4.

During the interval, Longford boss O’Loughlin and selectors Eugene McCormack and Declan Flaherty decided to introduce Darragh Doherty and Dylan Farrell in place of Oran Kenny and Jayson Matthews, respectively. It meant that half of Longford’s starting forward sextet had been replaced and it was reflective of the dominance of the home rearguard. 

Westmeath resumed with a similar intent that they displayed throughout the opening 35 plus minutes and they added two more points to their tally courtesy of Ray Connellan and Heslin (free), making it 1-11 to 0-4 with 42 minutes elapsed. 

Longford replied with a successful 45th minute Darren Gallagher ‘45, however, they dealt a serious sucker blow four minutes later as sub Ronan O’Toole made an immediate impact and crashed home Westmeath’s second goal, leaving 12 points separating the counties, 2-11 to 0-5. 

Longford goalkeeper Paddy Collum  Picture: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

With the subs introduced bringing a fresh impetus coupled with Westmeath taking their foot off the gas, Longford enjoyed a purple patch between the 51st and 63rd minutes that yielded six points in succession from sub Dylan Farrell (2 frees), Darragh Gallagher, sub Darragh Doherty, goalkeeper Paddy Collum (‘45) and sub Keelin McGann, leaving two goals between the sides, 2-11 to 0-11. 

Ray Connellan’s 65th minute point settled Westmeath’s anxiety, before Darren Gallagher (free) and sub Lorcan Dolan traded points at either end of the ground. Kevin Diffley grabbed Longford’s 13th point when a goal looked the more probable outcome.  

Westmeath sub Robbie Forde dispatched his side’s third goal in injury time, 3-13 to 0-13, and while Longford had the last say with a Dylan Farrell point it took none of the gloss off Westmeath’s emphatic victory. 

SCORERS

Westmeath: John Heslin 1-5 (4 frees), Alex Gardiner 0-3, Ronan O’Toole 1-0, Robbie Forde 1-0, Nigel Harte 0-2, Ray Connellan 0-2, Lorcan Dolan 0-1

Longford: Darren Gallagher 0-4 (0-2 free, 0-1 ‘45), Dylan Farrell 0-3 (frees), Daniel Reynolds 0-1, Michael Quinn 0-1, Dessie Reynolds 0-1, Darragh Doherty 0-1, Paddy Collum 0-1 (‘45), Keelin McGann 0-1, Kevin Diffley 0-1


TEAMS

WESTMEATH: Jason Daly; Jack Smith, Kevin Maguire, David Giles; Jamie Gonoud, Ronan Wallace, Nigel Harte; Jonathan Lynam, Ray Connellan; Sam McCartan, Ger Egan, David Lynch; Luke Loughlin, John Heslin, Alex Gardiner

Subs:- Ronan O’Toole for G Egan (49 mins), Lorcan Dolan for L Loughlin (60 mins), Kieran Martin for A Gardiner (67 mins), Robbie Forde for J Lynam (67 mins), Charlie Drumm for D Giles (70 mins).

Temporary sub:- Ronan O'Toole for R Connellan (45 mins); Connellan  for O'Toole (49 mins).  

LONGFORD: Paddy Collum (Fr Manning Gaels); Patrick Fox (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s), Andrew Farrell (Cashel), Barry O’Farrell (Carrickedmond); James Moran (Killoe Emmet Óg), Michael Quinn (capt., Killoe Emmet Óg), Iarla O’Sullivan (Rathcline); Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon), Darren Gallagher (St Mary’s Granard); Oran Kenny (Rathcline), Eoghan McCormack (Carrickedmond), Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connolly's); Jayson Matthews (Mullinalaghta St Columba’s), Daniel Reynolds (Sean Connolly's), Mark Hughes (Killoe Emmet Óg)

Subs: Keelin McGann (Kenagh) for M Hughes (31 mins), Darragh Doherty (Mostrim) for O Kenny (half time), Dylan Farrell (St Brigid’s Killashee) for J Matthews (half time), Ryan Moffett (Killoe Emmet Óg) for E McCormack (50 mins), Cian Dooner (Killoe Emmet Og) for Daniel Reynolds (64 mins). 

Temporary sub:- Fergal Sheridan (Colmcille) for D Gallagher (59 mins); Gallagher for Sheridan (61 mins). 

Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare). 

Longford players huddle before the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Westmeath and Longford at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar, Westmeath. Picture: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

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