Longford and Offaly to contest O'Byrne Cup Final
O'Byrne Cup semi-finals
LONGFORD 1-13 DUBLIN 3-6
OFFALY 0-16 WESTMEATH 0-11
By Paul Keane
Dessie Farrell's first game in charge of Dublin ended in a dramatic defeat as Longford finished with a scoring surge to secure an O'Byrne Cup final clash with Offaly next weekend.
The last time Dublin played at the venue in the pre-season competition, Longford scored a surprise semi-final win in 2016 and it was the same outcome this time, albeit under new management.
Dublin's main squad is just back from a team holiday so new manager Farrell convened a group of rookies and former underage talents and with three minutes of normal time remaining they were two points ahead.
But Padraic Davis' Longford simply refused to die in what was a surprisingly intense game and three late points including Darren Gallagher's winner from a free got them over the line.
Gallagher won the free himself and dusted himself down to convert it, his fifth point of the game.
It was tough on an inexperienced Dublin side who battled bravely with Niall O'Callaghan, younger brother of senior star Con, striking 2-0 and Killian O'Gara grabbing their other major.
Farrell took the opportunity of unlimited substitutions in the pre-season competition to make a massive 23 changes throughout the game.
Despite not using any of last year's squad, there was the intriguing sight of captain fantastic Stephen Cluxton leaving the Dublin dressing-room afterwards in his official gear.
Longford made the early running and led 0-4 to 0-1 but their advantage was wiped out by O'Gara's 19th minute goal when he flicked in with an outstretched foot from close range.
The sides hit the interval on level terms at 1-3 to 0-6 though Dublin registered their second goal within moments of the restart when O'Callaghan blasted home after good work by Dermot McLoughlin.
O'Callaghan's next goal, Dublin's third, came in the 50th minute and put the visitors 3-4 to 1-8 ahead, a two-point advantage they retained until the closing minutes when Longford rallied to win and return to the final.
Meanwhile, Offaly were impressive in their semi-final win and trailed only briefly during the game as they dethroned holders Westmeath.
Bernard Allen opened the scoring for John Maughan's side in the first minute and while they fell behind for a period they were back on top at half-time, 0-8 to 0-7.
Three Allen points in a row from frees followed after the restart to stretch their advantage and they were six clear with 20 minutes to go.
Cian Johnson was also among the scorers for Offaly who avoided any goal concessions and closed out the scoring with a 74th minute point from Cian Farrell following an advanced mark.
Longford scorers: Rian Brady 0-5 (0-1f), D Gallagher 0-5 (0-4f), Kevin Diffley 1-0, Oran Kenny 0-2, Darragh Doherty 0-1.
Dublin scorers: Niall O'Callaghan 2-0, Killian O'Gara 1-0, Gerry Seaver 0-2, CJ Smith 0-1, Dermot McLoughlin 0-1, Glenn O'Reilly 0-1, Nathan Doran 0-1
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Patrick Fox, Andrew Farrell, Barry O'Farrell; Iarla O'Sullivan, Michael Quinn, Colm P Smyth; Darren Gallagher, Kevin Diffley; Gary Rogers, Daniel Mimnagh, Dessie Reynolds; Rian Brady, Joseph Hagan, Oran Kenny. Subs: Darragh Doherty for Rogers 57, Peter Lynn for Kenny 60, Liam Connerton for Reynolds 68.
DUBLIN: Michael Shiel; CJ Smith, Eoin O'Brien, Darren Byrne; Niall McGovern, Graham Hannigan, Cian Murphy; Emmet O Conghaile, Tom Lahiff; Niall Walsh, Dan O'Brien, Glenn O'Reilly; Killian O'Gara, Niall O'Callaghan, Chris Sallier. Subs: Ross McGowan for Murphy 18, Scott Fulham for O'Gara 19, Ryan Deegan for O'Reilly 21, Sean Cleary for Smith 25, Gerry Seaver for Walsh 25, David Quinn for Sallier 26, Dermot McLoughlin for O'Brien 27, Nathan Doran for Lahiff 29, Eoin O'Dea for McGovern 31, Cormac Howley for O Conghaile 34, O Conghaile for Lahiff 41, O'Reilly for Deegan 45, Walsh for Seaver 45, Murphy for Cleary 49, Sallier for O'Callaghan 50, O'Brien for Quinn 55, O'Gara for Lahiff 55, McGovern for McLoughlin 55, Lahiff for Doran 60, Seaver for Fulham 60, Smith for Hannigan 63, O'Callaghan for Sallier 68, O'Dea for Murphy 73.
Referee: Alan Coyne (Westmeath).