There was no shortage of goalmouth action in Tullamore this evening.
There was no shortage of goalmouth action in Tullamore this evening. 

Leinster SFC: Longford prevail in Tullamore shootout

Leinster SFC Round One

LONGFORD 0-25             CARLOW 2-13

Kevin Egan at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park

Longford wrapped up the last quarter-final spot in the Leinster football championship this evening after they overcame Carlow in an incredible end-to-end attacking contest at Tullamore.

There were goal chances aplenty at both ends of the field, but when it came to raising white flags Longford were in incredible form, with eleven different players scoring from play and corner forwards Rian Brady and Robbie Smyth firing over five each.

There were teams who put in much more impressive league campaigns as a whole, but few managers will have been as satisfied as Padraic Davis with how his team progressed over the course of their four contests in the Allianz League. After making a dreadful start, they showed gradual improvement from game to game, and now that the championship has landed, they are playing some incredibly fast, cohesive attacking football.

At the first half water break it was 0-4 to 0-2 in Longford’s favour and Carlow had goalkeeper Ciarán Cunningham to thank for being in touch after he made two superb saves to deny Darren Gallagher.

Longford’s energy and sharpness in the middle third meant that they won plenty of possession, and every time they looked to attack it seemed like they were capable of opening up the Carlow defence. Smyth and Brady shot some gorgeous points on the turn, Michael Quinn and Kevin Diffley hit the target from distance and Dessie Reynolds also could have had a goal but blasted his shot over the bar in a period of real dominance for the North Leinster county.

An 0-12 to 0-3 lead was pegged back slightly by half time, as the introduction of Paul Broderick added an extra punch to the Carlow attack. Seán Gannon’s runs from deep also opened up Longford and Paddy Collum and Andrew Farrell were both called upon to make close range blocks to protect their goal.

Carlow continued their form after half time, chipping in three scores in succession to cut the gap to four, but Longford opened up again and shot five out of the next six scores, with David McGivney increasingly prominent at centre forward.

A stunning run and finish from Conor Crowley dragged Carlow back into the game as he made the net dance from 20 metres out, but they continued to struggle at the other end of the field and scores from Joseph Hagan (two) and Smyth, Smyth’s a sublime strike from out on the right wing, undid the damage and set up what should have been a comfortable finish.

The withdrawal of Smyth and Brady suggested that the Longford management felt relaxed about their prospects, but Carlow kept chasing goals and they created chance after chance, eventually finding the target through Darragh Foley. Time was their enemy at this stage and even with six minutes of stoppage time announced, they weren’t able to save their season.  

Longford now advance to a clash with Meath next Sunday.

Scorers for Longford: Robbie Smyth and Rian Brady 0-5 each, Darren Gallagher 0-4 (0-3f), Joseph Hagan, David McGivney & Dessie Reynolds 0-2 each, Kevin Diffley, Michael Quinn, Donal McElligott, Patrick Fox & Oran Kenny 0-1 each.

Scorers for Carlow: Darragh Foley 1-4 (0-3f), Paul Broderick 0-4 (0-3f), Conor Crowley 1-0, Chris Blake 0-3, Colm Hulton 0-2.

LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Patrick Fox, Andrew Farrell, Enda Macken; Iarla O'Sullivan, Michael Quinn, Colm P Smyth; Kevin Diffley, Darren Gallagher; Dessie Reynolds, David McGivney, Donal McElligott; Robbie Smyth, Joseph Hagan, Rían Brady.

Subs: Daniel Mimnagh for CP Smyth (33), Liam Connerton for McElligott (56), Oran Kenny for Brady (58), Darragh Doherty for R Smyth (61), Dylan Farrell for Reynolds (66)

CARLOW: Ciarán Cunningham; Liam Roberts, Shane Redmond, Josh Moore; Jordan Morrissey; John Murphy, Seanie Bambrick; Eoghan Ruth, Sean Gannon; Ross Dunphy, Colm Hulton, Jamie Clarke; Chris Blake, Darragh Foley, Conor Crowley.

Subs: Mikey Bambrick for Ruth (33), Paul Broderick for Dunphy (33), Tomás Kenny for Murphy (half-time), Jordan Lowry for Roberts (half-time), Conor Lawlor for Bambrick (66)

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)