Darren Gallagher's last-gasp point steers Longford to victory over experimental Dublin in O’Byrne Cup semi-final

Leinster GAA O’Byrne Cup semi-final: Longford 1-13 Dublin 3-6

Darren Gallagher's last-gasp point steers Longford to victory over experimental Dublin in O’Byrne Cup semi-final

St Mary's Granard player Darren Gallagher landed the winning point for Longford

A last minute pointed free from Darren Gallagher saw Longford book their place in the Leinster GAA O'Byrne Cup Final with a narrow win over a very much experimental Dublin side, their first outing under new manager Dessie Farrell, at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park this afternoon.

Leinster GAA O’Byrne Cup semi-final: Longford 1-13 Dublin 3-6

The sides were level at half time, Longford 0-6 Dublin 1-3, and Longford’s reward is a final date against John Maughan’s Offaly, who were 0-16 to 0-11 winners over Westmeath in the second semi-final at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park, Tullamore.

Also read: Offaly reach O'Byrne Cup Final with win over Westmeath 

Longford also defeated Dublin in the 2016 O’Byrne Cup semi-final clash at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park when, managed by Denis Connerton, they emerged victorious by six points, 1-12 to 0-9. Longford’s quest for a third O’Byrne Cup triumph, their first since 2000, came unstuck as Meath won the final at Pairc Tailteann by 1-17 to 1-11. 

Worrying though for Longford boss Padraic Davis is the manner in which they conceded the goals today; they’ve leaked five in two games and this defensive frailty has to be addressed ahead of the start of the Allianz National Football Division 3 campaign. Longford and Offaly will meet in Round 2 of that competition also.

For whatever reason Dublin manager Dessie Farrell introduced ten subs in the first half with just one player appearing to be injured.

They also made a number of changes in the second half, making use of the unlimited subs rule. Indeed, they made a total of 23 subs and All-Ireland winning captain Stephen Cluxton was with the Dublin group but didn’t play. 

Longford made a fine start with Rian Brady and Oran Kenny hitting over early points. In the 11th minute CJ Smith opened Dublin's account, 0-2 to 0-1. 

Longford replied with neat points from Brady and Darren Gallagher to extend the lead to three, 0-4 to 0-1, in the 17th minute.

Two minutes later Dublin were level when Killian O'Gara found the back of the net. He was substituted seconds later.

Dublin were buoyed by that goal but Longford responded with another Brady point, 0-5 to 1-1. The Dubs replied with two points to take the lead in the 35th minute but seconds later Oran Kenny drew Longford level. Half-time: Longford 0-6 Dublin 1-3. 

In the opening minute of the second half Dublin got their second goal and it was poor from Longford's perspective with Niall O'Callaghan raising the green flag, 0-6 to 2-3.

Rian Brady responded with two points for the hosts before Dublin made it 2-4 to 0-8. 

Longford scored a goal in the 46th minute with Kevin Diffley finishing to the net after Daniel Mimnagh's shot was saved, 1-8 to 2-4.

Dublin cancelled that goal out minutes later when O'Callaghan got his second of the game in the 49th minute, 3-4 to 1-8. It was all go, and in the 52nd minute Dessie Reynolds' powerful shot came off the post.

Longford cut the gap to just one point on three occasions (1-9 to 3-4, 1-10 to 3-5 & 1-11 to 3-6) and in stoppage time Darragh Doherty levelled matters with a fine point. 

Right at the end Darren Gallagher was fouled and he dusted himself down before firing over the decisive winning point.

LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Patrick Fox, Andrew Farrell, Barry O'Farrell; Iarla O'Sullivan, Michael Quinn, Colm P. Smyth; Darren Gallagher (0-5, 0-4 f), Kevin Diffley (1-0); Gary Rogers, Daniel Mimnagh, Dessie Reynolds; Rian Brady (0-5, 0-1f), Joseph Hagan, Oran Kenny (0-2).

Subs: Darragh Doherty (0-1) for G Rogers (56 mins), Peter Lynn for O Kenny (59 mins), Liam Connerton for D Reynolds (67 mins)

DUBLIN: Michael Shiel; CJ Smith (0-1), Eoin O'Brien, Darren Byrne; Niall McGovern, Graham Hannigan, Cian Murphy; Emmet O'Conghaile, Tom Lahiff; Niall Walsh, Dan O'Brien, Glenn O'Reilly (0-1); Killian O'Gara (1-0), Niall O'Callaghan (2-0), Chris Sallier.

Subs used: Ross McGowan, Scott Fulham, Ryan Deegan, Sean Cleary, Gerry Seaver (0-2), David Quinn, Dermot McLoughlin (0-1), Nathan Doran (0-1), Eoin O'Dea, Cormac Howley

REFEREE: Alan Coyne (Westmeath)

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