A masterclass of corner forward play from Ciarán Lyng helped Wexford to a hard fought 1-15 to 1-13 victory over Longford at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park tonight, in the first of the three Leinster SFC quarter finals that are scheduled to be played this weekend.
He took advantage of some poor positional play in the Longford full back line to get in behind his man and score a crucial goal in the first half, while his final tally of 1-06 included some stunning points from wide positions in the second half.
Longford came from five points behind to take the lead through Enda Williams with seven minutes remaining, their comeback powered by a Francis McGee goal, but Wexford dug deep and prevailed, thanks to two Lyng points and a long-range Michael O’Regan score.
These two sides are both well known for their attacking play but both struggled to find their scoring rhythm in the early stages.
Wexford conceded several scrappy turnovers in the early stages while Longford were unable to compete in the battle for primary possession, playing second fiddle to some majestic fielding from Daithí Waters.
Much of Wexford’s good play ran aground once they got into the scoring zone, unlike Longford who did get several shots on goal, though they kicked most of them astray.
The home side recorded 13 wides over the course of this tie, nine in the first half, but they did score through Francis McGee and Paul Barden early on, balancing out points from Waters and Lyng.
Lyng’s goal, converted from 12 yards out after he fielded a long Brian Malone delivery, kickstarted a rich vein of scoring that was typical of these sides. Barden, Ben Brosnan, Brian Kavanagh and Seán McCormack all posted fine scores from play to leave the tie delicately poised at 1-4 to 0-06 with ten minutes to go before the interval.
That ten-minute spell was dominated by Wexford, however, and they kicked four of the next five points, two coming from half backs Brian Malone and Adrian Flynn who got forward very well in support of their attackers.
Powerful running and support play was key for Wexford at this stage as their handpasses were now starting to stick, while Longford continued to rack up the wides and also missed a great goal chance when Shane Doyle volleyed the ball straight at Shane Roche after being well found by Barden.
Longford’s poor run of form continued after the interval and Wexford stretched their lead out to five, 1-11 to 0-09, with 20 minutes to play.
Longford were badly in need of some inspiration and they got it from substitute Mark Hughes, who came off the bench and within two minutes won a free out on the left wing and quickly played it into Brian Kavanagh.
Kavanagh’s layoff found Francis McGee, who powered forward despite being fouled and neatly placed his shot into the bottom left corner of the net.
Three of the next four points went the way of the Longford men and with the partisan crowd now in full voice, they looked well poised to prevail – however they still hadn’t found an answer to Lyng’s all-round threat and the St Martins players produced the goods in the closing stages, striking one stunning point from play, stroking over an immaculate free kick and playing a part in the build up to Michael O’Regan’s insurance point.
Longford: D Sheridan; D Brady, B Gilleran, F Battrim; CP Smyth, E Williams (0-01), S Mulligan; J Keegan, M Quinn (0-01); N Mulligan, F McGee (1-01), S Doyle; P Barden (0-03), B Kavanagh (0-02), S McCormack (0-05, 0-04 frees)
Subs: P Foy for N Mulligan (32), K Diffley for Keegan (44), B O’Farrell for Brady (47), M Hughes for Doyle (51).
Wexford: S Roche; C Carty, G Molloy, M Furlong; A Flynn (0-01), B Malone (0-01), R Tierney; D Waters (0-01), P Byrne; K O’Grady (0-01), PJ Banville, J Holmes; R Dempsey (0-01), B Brosnan (0-03, 0-02 frees), C Lyng (1-06, 0-02 frees)
Subs: T Rossiter for Tierney (55), J Tubritt for Holmes (56), C Kehoe for Dempsey (64), M O’Regan (0-01) for Byrne (67).