EirGrid Leinster U-20 Championship round-up
EirGrid Leinster Under 20 Championship
DUBLIN 2-21 LONGFORD 0-11
By Kevin Egan at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park
Dublin’s under-20 footballers produced a devastating attacking display at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park this evening to get their Eirgrid Leinster championship campaign underway in style. Their 16-point win was spearheaded by 2017 All-Ireland under-21 medalist Dan O’Brien, who finished the game with a personal haul of 1-9, all from play.
Dublin’s control of the midfield battle was absolute, which meant that Tom Gray’s attackers had plenty of ball to work with. They used it brilliantly, slicing open the Longford defence time and again with a fast brand of football that saw them transfer the play from one end of the field to the other incredibly quickly.
For their part, it was clear that if this Longford attack got a decent supply of ball, they were capable of turning possession into scores as well, particularly in the first half. Their inside forward lines made some good angled runs, they carried the ball from midfield and half forward purposefully, and while they were guilty of one or two turnovers in possession, they always looked to do something positive with their possessions as opposed to taking the easy option of going lateral or backwards to avoid contact.
Throughout the opening half hour they earned frees that Thomas McGann converted very well, while Shane Farrell, Alan McKeon and Iarla O’Sullivan all proved their ability to score from range with some stunning long-distance points that kept the Longford tally creeping upwards.
However at the other end of the field, Dublin were simply unstoppable. Five of the six Dublin forwards scored from play in the first half, while the other – wing forward James Madden – seemed to break the line and create an overlap every time he took possession. His interchange with Dan O’Brien set up Dublin’s first goal to put them 1-1 to 0-2 in front after just seven minutes, O’Brien ghosting in behind the line before slipping a low finish underneath Conor Gallagher. The boys in the lighter shade of blue never looked back from there.
Tom Keane palmed in a second goal two minutes later after Dublin’s quick handpassing bamboozled the Longford defence, and for the remainder of the first half O’Brien and Seán Bugler wreaked havoc, building up a 2-11 to 0-8 interval lead.
On a perfectly still, warm evening, with a pristine surface underfoot and the sun shining in from one side, there was no reason why playing either direction should have been advantageous – yet Longford were completely shut down after the break, adding just one point (and one wide) before the last minute of normal time.
O’Brien completed his 10-score tally by the 48th minute though he, Cormac Howley and Ciarán Archer were all guilty of missed goal chances. Most of the credit for that must go to Longford goalkeeper Conor Gallagher, who had a superb outing between the posts for the home side.
However the scores kept mounting, with Archer making a particularly prominent contribution off the bench, and the tie was long settled by the time late points from Thomas McGann and Ruairí Harkin brought Longford’s total for the evening to double figures.
Next on the agenda for Longford is a crucial clash with Wexford in a week’s time, with both counties out of second chances after losing their first-round clashes this evening, while on the same afternoon Dublin will play host to Westmeath at Parnell Park.
*Scorers for Dublin: *Dan O’Brien 1-9, Tom Keane 1-1, Sean Bugler, Cormac Howley and Ciarán Archer (0-1 ’45, 0-1f) 0-3 each, James Doran & James Madden 0-1 each.
Scorers for Longford: Thomas McGann 0-5 (5fs), Peter Lynn, Shane Farrell, Alan McKeon (f), Iarla O’Sullivan, Rory Hawkins and Ruairí Harkin 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: David O’Hanlon; Nathan Nolan, Nathan Doran, Ciarán Smith; Kieran Kennedy, Neil Matthews, Eoin O’Dea; Donal Ryan, Eoghan Fitzpatrick; Seán Bugler, Dan O’Brien, James Madden; James Doran, Cormac Howley, Tom Keane.
Subs: Conor Hynes for Keane (36), James Holland for Fitzpatrick (48), Michael Mullin for Kennedy (51), Ciarán Archer for Howley (55), Karl Lynch Bisset for Madden (57), Seán Farrelly for O’Dea (60).
LONGFORD: Conor Gallagher; Kian Gilmore, Gerard Flynn, Mark McCormack; Cillian Lee, Michael Cahill, Shane Farrell; Enda Farrell, Cian McElligott; Iarla Sullivan, Peter Lynn, Niall Farrelly; Rory Hawkins, Thomas McGann, Alan McKeon.
Subs: Daire Duggan for Cahill (HT), Ruairí Harkin for O’Sullivan (38), Ryan McHugh for McElligott (46), Shane Campbell for McCormack (48), Ros Claffey for Farrell (55), Aaron McGee for Hawkins (59)
REFEREE: Niall Ward (Westmeath)
MEATH 6-16 WICKLOW 1-9
OFFALY 2-19 CARLOW 1-10
WESTMEATH 2-12 WEXFORD 1-12
KILDARE 1-17 LAOIS 4-6
Cian Johnson, the promising Offaly teenager, was in great scoring form netting a goal and a string of fine points as Offaly defeated Carlow.
Sean Reilly struck a brace of goals for Meath, who proved far too strong for Wicklow.
James Maxwell and Sean Petit netted majors for Westmeath, who survived despite a late Wexford rally.
Jimmy Hyland's goal sealed Kildare's win against Laois in a well contested encounter.