Longford stormed ahead to decisively defeat Leitrim in the second half of last Saturday's U-21 Hastings Cup game in Breffni Park's 3G pitch Cavan in a game throughout all of which there was poor visibility due to a blanket of fog.
In the first half Leitrim matched Longford more or less stride for stride and only trailed by a point at the break. But Longford blew the Leitrim challenge away in the first thirteen minutes of the second half when they shot five unanswered points.
Morgan Quinn put Leitrim ahead in the opening minute when he fired over from play. But Quinn put two Leitrim chances wide over the next four minutes; one from a free and the other from play.
Longford also found it difficult to find the target in this period with Pdraig Gill and Diarmuid Cooney notching up a wide apiece from play while Leitrim 'keeper Philip Farrelly denied an 8th minute goal chance from Kevin Diffley at the expense of a '45.'
Two minutes later the Longford men opened their account after James Noonan was fouled and the same player duly tapped the resultant free over the bar. A foul on Diarmuid Cooney within the space of two more minutes was again punished by Noonan as he shot Longford into the lead.
Cooney shot a 13th wide from play and in the next minute Leitrim 'keeper Philip Farrelly had to be alert to prevent a James Noonan effort entering his net. At the end of the first quarter Longford went further ahead after Pdraig Gill hit a '45' into the Leitrim danger area, which was flicked over the bar by his midfield partner John Keegan.
Leitrim reduced the deficit to the minimum two minutes later when Morgan Quinn blazed a goal chance over the bar after receiving a pass from Emmett Mahon. Kevin Diffley replied for Longford with a 19th minute point from play.
However four minutes later the Leitrim men got right back into contention again after Eoin Ward tapped over a free following a foul on Aidan Flynn. But James Noonan put more daylight between the sides again in the 26th minute when he found the range from a well-hit long range Longford free.
The Leitrim men rallied once more and got on level terms over the next two minutes after Aidan Flynn and Morgan Quinn hit a point apiece from play. But James Noonan put Longford back in front with a long range free conversion in the 29th minute
Longford full-forward Darren Gallagher allowed Leitrim a let off in the following minute when he shot wide from play as his side took a slender 0-6 to 0-5 lead into the break.
Following the restart Longford upped their game several notches and forced Leitrim to play second fiddle for all but the final ten minutes of the second half. In the opening four minutes after the interval Longford increased their lead when Pdraig Gill shot over from play; James Noonan slotted over a free and Kevin Diffley also found the target from play.
Longford established a double scores lead (0-10 to 0-5) two minutes later when Pdraig Gill shot a point from play. Leitrim eventually opened their second half account when Enda Maguire fired over a 43rd minute point, which was the first score registered by his side in sixteen minutes.
But Longford kept the pressure up and raced further ahead over the next six minutes with points from play from Darren Gallagher and James Noonan. Leitrim had a let off when corner back Shane Ryan denied a Gallagher goal chance with Ryan making a timely 51st minute save on his goal line.
Colm P. Smith put a Longford point chance wide shortly afterwards but John Keegan made no mistake when he shot over a 53rd minute point to keep his side well on top.
Over the next two minutes Leitrim reduced the deficit in a mini rally to five points when Eoin Ward and substitute Conor Beirne shot a point each from play.
James Noonan answered the late Leitrim surge with a 57th minute Longford free tap over and Noonan could have increased his side's advantage even further three minutes later had he not hit another free short after Conor Keegan had been fouled.
When substitute Paddy Mullooly slotted over a free in the final minute of the action he ensured a comfortable and decisive seven points win for the Padraic Davis managed Longford side who will now battle it out with Roscommon in their remaining group fixture next weekend for a place in the 2011 Hastings Cup Final.
LONGFORD: Aidan Gray (Fr. Manning Gaels); James Carroll (Rathcline), Fergal Battrim (Abbeylara), Aaron Quinn (Fr. Manning Gaels); Marty Mulvey (Carrickedmond), Colm P. Smith (Abbeylara), Fergal Reilly (Fr. Manning Gaels); John Keegan (Mullinalaghta, 0-2), Pdraig Gill (Fr. Manning Gaels, 0-2); Pdraig McCormack (Killoe), Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon, 0-2), Diarmuid Cooney (Fr. Manning Gaels); James Noonan (Fr. Manning Gaels, 0-7, six frees), Darren Gallagher (Granard, 0-1), Darren Quinn (Clonguish).
Subs:- Sean Flynn (Longford Slashers) for D Cooney (half-time); Bernard Sheridan (Dromard) for D Quinn (47 mins); Paddy Mullooly (Rathcline, 0-1, free) for D Gallagher (55 mins), Kevin Farrell (Cashel) for F Reilly (56 mins); Conor Keegan (Forgney) for M Mulvey (56 mins).
LEITRIM: Philip Farrelly; Shane Ryan, James O'Brien, Dara Flynn; Niall Clancy, Philip McGourty, Roger Baker-Kenny; Conor Guckian; Aidan Flynn 0-1, Eoin Ward 0-2, one free), Morgan Quinn 0-3; Paul Hackett, Emmett Mahon, Enda Maguire 0-1.
Subs:- Conor Beirne (0-1) for P Hackett (half-time); Ciarn Egan for D Flynn (half-time); Mark Beirne for P McGourty (half-time), Sean McWeeney for R Baker-Kenny (half-time).
Referee: Ollie Kelly (Roscommon).
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