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Liam Connerton

Liam Connerton

SFC Qualifier: Longford shock Monaghan

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifier Round 2B


By Ciaran McGreal in Clones

Longford sent Monaghan crashing out of the 2016 championship as goals from Mickey Quinn and Robbie Smyth saw them produce a huge shock at St Tiernach’s Park.

It was a thoroughly deserved victory for Denis Connerton’s men as they repeated their 2004 qualifier win in Clones in the only other championship meeting between them.

Longford made a brilliant start to the game as Quinn raised a green flag after just four minutes. But Monaghan, with the wind at their backs and playing their third match in 14 days, went in at the break 1-9 to 1-6 up after a strong finish to the half.

But Longford produced a superb second half performance and Robbie Smyth's 62nd minute goal proved crucial as they secured their place in the next round.

Despite playing against the wind in the opening half, Longford stormed out of the blocks. Smyth pointed a free after two minutes before Quinn poached a goal for the visitors. Liam Connerton's initial shot was partially saved by Rory Beggan and as the ball rolled towards goal, Quinn tapped it in to give Longford a dream start.

Monaghan replied as Conor McManus scored two points in quick succession to get them into the game. James McGivney was in impressive form for the visitors, and he cancelled out McManus' efforts before Brian Kavanagh made it 1-4 to 0-2 after 15 minutes.

But the home side finished the half strongly with Conor McCarthy (3) and Jack McCarron picking off points before Colin Walshe bagged a goal on 34 minutes. The corner back made the initial burst forward before teeing up McCarron whose shots was saved but the rebound fell to Walshe who dispatched it past Paddy Collum.

McManus pointed a free and Ryan McAnespie grabbed a point in injury time to give Monaghan a three point lead at the interval.

Longford needed a good start to the half and they got the first score of the half after ten seconds as Diarmuid Masterson split the posts. Brian Kavanagh added another point from a sideline ball a minute later to bring  the visitors to within a point of Monaghan.

Goalkeeper Rory Beggan pointed a free for Monaghan in the 40th minute but Longford replied with four unanswered points with Masterson, McGivney, Kavanagh and Connerton all raising white flags to put Longford 1-12 to 1-10 up after 54 minutes.

With the pressure on, Monaghan drew level through McCarthy and Shane Carey on 58 minutes. Longford's crucial score came with eight minutes to go as Robbie Smyth notched their second goal after taking a pass from Connerton.

Monaghan besieged the Longford defence looking for a goal of their own but all they could manage in the closing stages was a McManus free deep in injury time as Longford held on for a massive upset.

Scorers for Longford: R Smyth 1-3 (2f), D Masterson 0-3, J McGivney 0-3, B Kavanagh 0-3 (1f, 1 s-l), M Quinn 1-0, L Connerton 0-1.

Scorers for Monaghan: C McCarthy 0-4, C McManus 0-4 (3f), C Walshe 1-0, J McCarron 0-2, R Beggan 0-1 (1f), R McAnespie 0-1, S Carey 0-1.

Longford: P Collum; C Farrelly, P McGee, B Gilleran; D McElligott, M Quinn, B McKeon; M Brady, D Gallagher; D Masterson, D Brady, J McGivney; R Smyth, B Kavanagh, L Connerton. Subs: B O'Farrell for McGee (24), D Reynolds for McElligott (31, black card), M Hughes for M Brady (h-t), R Connor for McKeon (60, black card), B Farrell for Gallagher (65), S Hannon for Smyth (72).

Monaghan: *R Beggan; C Walshe, D Wylie, C Boyle; K O'Connell, V Corey, F Kelly; N McAdam, D Hughes; R McAnespie, D Malone, T Kerr; J McCarron, C McManus, C McCarthy. *Subs: O Duffy for Malone (h-t), S Carey for O'Connell (h-t), D Mone for Kerr (50), K Hughes for McCarron (56), S Gollogly for Duffy (63)

Referee: C Branagan (Down)

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