Paul Mathews was on target with two goals this afternoon in Croke Park, helping Louth to Lory Meaghar success.
Paul Mathews was on target with two goals this afternoon in Croke Park, helping Louth to Lory Meaghar success.

Lory Meagher Cup: Louth thrive in Croke Park

2022 Lory Meaghar Cup Final

LOUTH        3-27              LONGFORD 3-14

Kevin Egan at Croke Park

Louth sit atop the Lory Meagher Cup roll of honour this evening as the only county to win this championship three times, following a comfortable win over Longford at Croke Park this afternoon.

It was a far cry from the June 2021 meeting of these two sides when Longford racked up an incredible eight goals in the round robin clash between the counties at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, though there might have been a few nervous thoughts in the heads of the Louth supporters when the first goal of this fixture was another Longford goal, veteran Joe O’Brien the scorer after he got in behind the Louth full-back line to whip a good shot inside Ruairí Morrissey’s near post.

Points from Cathal Mullane and Reuben Murray crowned an excellent start for Longford as they led by five after as many minutes, though that was to be as good as it good for the Shannonsiders, as Louth took over from then on.

A final tally of 3-27 would suggest a flourishing attacking performance and certainly there was plenty to like about the excellent striking from distance of Feidhelm Joyce and Liam Molloy, while Paul Mathews was clinical close to goal – however the real platform for Louth’s success was their dominance at the back, where they were inspired by masterful performances from their two defensive lines, in particular Conor Quigley at centre back, Donal Ryan on the edge of the square, and Adam Plunkett in the right corner.

Molloy settled the Wee County’s nerves with their first point after seven minutes, and once Mathews fed Seaghan Conneely with a well-timed handpass and the St. Fechin’s man applied a controlled low finish to the net, the 2016 and 2020 Meagher Cup winners were up and running.

Molloy’s excellent low pass set up a second goal for Mathews in the 26th minute, and while Longford rallied with three excellent points in quick succession, two of them off the stick of midfielder Paddy Lynam who was in excellent form throughout this contest, Louth settled again and were full value for their 2-9 to 1-7 interval lead.

Louth’s previous stint in Nickey Rackard competition spanned three difficult seasons, where they won just one game across all three campaigns – a 2018 relegation playoff. When they prepare for next year’s run at the higher tier championship, they’ll look at their third quarter performance in this final as both the standard that they’ll want to maintain, and perhaps even a foundation from which to build.

Simply put, Paul McCormack’s side were exceptional in this period, and quickly put Longford to the sword, rendering the last 15 minutes quite uncompetitive.

The crucial score was a second goal from Mathews, scrambled over the line after Niall Keenan’s long delivery dropped tantalisingly in between the full back and goalkeeper, offering just enough window for the full-forward to get a decisive touch, but some sublime points from Joyce also helped the Wee men move 13 points clear.

Longford were making no headway up front whatsoever, and while they took advantage of some good fortune in the 58th minute, Reuben Murray whipping the sliotar to the net after a long range free broke kindly for the wing forward, Louth didn’t miss a step and kept on firing over the points, with Darren Geoghegan on target from frees while substitutes Niall Keenan, Mark Gahan and Pádraig Fallon all found the mark.

A late goal from Enda Naughton proved to be very scant consolation for Longford, who simply couldn’t match the pace of a rampant Louth side at any stage.

Scorers for Louth: Darren Geoghegan 0-9 (0-6f), Paul Mathews 2-1, Feidhelm Joyce 0-6, Seaghan Conneely 1-1, Liam Molloy 0-4, Niall Keenan 0-2, Seánie Crosbie 0-1, Seán Kerrisk 0-1, Mark Gahan 0-1, Pádraig Fallon 0-1.

Scorers for Longford: Paddy Lynam 0-6 (0-3f, 0-1 65), Joe O’Brien 1-2 (0-1f), Reuben Murray 1-2, Enda Naughton 1-0, Emmet Corrigan 0-2, Cathal Mullane 0-1, Cian Kavanagh 0-1.

Louth: Ruairí Morrissey; Matthew Fee, Donal Ryan, Adam Plunkett; Jamie McDonnell, Conor Quigley, Danny Morgan; Seánie Crosbie, Liam Molloy; Feidhelm Joyce, Seaghan Conneely, Peter Fortune; Seán Kerrisk, Paul Mathews, Darren Geoghegan.

Subs: Niall Keenan for Fortune (40), Mark Gahan for Kerrisk (58), Pádraig Fallon for Crosbie (64), Andrew Smith for Plunkett (67), Andrew Mackin for Conneely (70)

Longford: Conor Gallagher; Karl Murray, Enda Naughton, Niall Moran; Adam Quinn, David Buckley, Aidan Sheridan; Emmet Corrigan, Paddy Lynam; Rueben Murray, Cian Kavanagh, Evan Tully; John Mulhern, Cathal Mullane, Joe O’Brien.

Subs: Michael Mulcahy for Mulhern (27), Pearse McNally for Sheridan (55), Daire Regan for Tully (56), Paul Barden for Kavanagh (70+2), Ciarán Farrell for Murray (70+3).

Referee: Caymon Flynn (Westmeath).