Darren Geoghegan has hit 2-31 in three starts and one sub appearance for Louth during their Lory Meagher Cup campaign.
Darren Geoghegan has hit 2-31 in three starts and one sub appearance for Louth during their Lory Meagher Cup campaign. 

Preview: Lory Meagher Cup Final - Longford v Louth

Lory Meagher Cup Final

Longford v Louth, Saturday, 1.00, Croke Park. Live coverage on Spórt TG4 YouTube

By Colm Shalvey

Saturday’s triple-header of hurling deciders at Croke Park gets underway with an all-Leinster Lory Meagher Cup decider between Longford and Louth.

These counties are among the five to have won the Lory Meagher Cup more than once, with the winners of Saturday’s game set to go top of the roll of honour on three titles. Louth have a 100% record in finals after wins in 2016 and 2020, while Longford are at this stage for the first time since 2014.

A second Croker appearance in three years looked like a remote possibility for Louth when they lost two of their first three group games, but Monaghan being deducted four points for fielding an ineligible player opened the door for Paul McCormack’s side. A comprehensive win over Cavan kept Louth’s hopes alive and they edged a thriller in Ballinamore to overtake Leitrim on the head-to-head rule.

Allianz Hurling League Division IIIB runners-up Longford were pipped in the last minute of their opening group game away to Leitrim, but they themselves finished on the right side of another three close contests against Lancashire, Louth and Monaghan, before easing past Cavan last weekend.

Louth’s upturn in form has certainly been influenced by the return from injury of their talisman Darren Geoghegan, who has hit 2-31 in three starts and one sub appearance. Mark Gahan, Seán Kerrisk and Paul Mathews had to step up in Geoghegan’s absence, while Louth captain Feidhelm Joyce has been in inspirational form in the middle third. Jamie McDonnell, Seánie Crosbie and Liam Molloy are also set to play central roles for the Wee County.

Longford hurler, Joe O'Brien. 
Longford hurler, Joe O'Brien. 

Joe O’Brien – top scorer to date with 0-44 – hit 2-2 in the final when Longford last got their hands on the Lory Meagher Cup, while former Limerick U-21 Cathal Mullane also remains as a key man in their attack after several years of service and he is set to deputise as captain due to a shoulder injury to fellow stalwart Johnny Casey.

Tipperary native David Buckley has dropped deep to nail down the centre-back position, while Adrian Moran has added significantly to his options by recruiting Westmeath duo Paddy Lynam and Emmet Corrigan, who could make up a strong midfield partnership. Reuben and Karl Murray and Cian Kavanagh should also be to the fore for the table-toppers.

Just a single point separated these teams when they clashed just under a month ago, so this one has all the hallmarks of a game that should go down to the wire.

Longford’s Lory Meagher Cup scorers 2022: Joe O’Brien 0-44 (24f); Paddy Lynam 0-16 (11f); Cathal Mullane 1-9; Reuben Murray 2-3; Cian Kavanagh 0-9; Emmet Corrigan 0-4; Adam Quinn, David Buckley (2f) 0-3 each; Karl Murray, John Mulhern, Paul Barden, Aidan Sheridan 0-1 each.

Louth’s Lory Meagher Cup scorers 2022: Darren Geoghegan 2-31 (0-20f, 0-1 ‘65); Mark Gahan 2-13 (1-0 pen, 0-5f); Feidhelm Joyce 0-15; Seán Kerrisk 3-5 (0-1f); Paul Mathews 1-6; Jamie McDonnell, Seaghán Conneely 1-4 each; Liam Molloy 0-5; Matthew Fee, Niall Keenan 0-3 each; Peter Fortune, Seánie Crosbie 0-2 each; Conor Quigley, Ronan Mulholland, Pádraig Fallon, Conor Deane 0-1 each.

Lory Meagher Cup top scorers 2022:

Joe O’Brien (Longford) 0-44

Darren Geoghegan (Louth) 2-31

Gavin O’Hagan (Leitrim) 1-34

Mark Treanor (Monaghan) 4-23

Brendan Delaney (Leitrim) 6-4

Longford’s Joe O’Brien leads the Lory Meagher Cup scoring charts for the second consecutive year ahead of Saturday’s final. With 44 points to his name, O’Brien could pass the 50-point mark at Croke Park. 2020 top scorer Darren Geoghegan shares second place, despite injury restricting him to one substitute appearance in Louth’s first two games of the campaign.

Gavin O’Hagan is joined in the top five by his Leitrim team-mate Brendan Delaney (whose entire tally came from open play); either side of Monaghan’s Mark Treanor.