Longford 2-13 Westmeath 1-13

Updated: Thursday, 14 Jun 2007 15:54

Longford's Liam Keenan under pressure from Westmeath's Damien Healy
Longford's Liam Keenan under pressure from Westmeath's Damien Healy


Brian Kavanagh played a starring role as Longford ended Westmeath's Leinster title aspirations with a stunning 2-13 to 1-13 comeback win at Pearse Park this afternoon.

Ardagh man Kavanagh tallied up 2-06 – his two goals coming inside the opening five minutes of the second half – to send Luke Dempsey's side through to a quarter-final clash with Laois on 2 June.

Martin Flanagan's 23rd minute goal and the superb point-taking of Dessie Dolan and Denis Glennon had Westmeath leading 1-10 to 0-05 at half-time.

But Kavanagh's brace of goals, after 36 and 40 minutes, sprung Longford to life, and scores from Trevor Smullen, David Hanniffy and Padraic Davis decisively sent them clear.

The win was Longford's first Championship success over their midland rivals since 1990 and a richly deserved one for their second half efforts.

Backed by a strong wind, Westmeath made the better start to this first round clash with the honour of the first score in the 2007 Bank of Ireland Football Championship falling to Glennon, who right-footed over after only 25 seconds.

The visitors were on fire in the opening stages and further points from midfielder David O'Shaughnessy and fit-again captain Dessie Dolan (0-02) gave the Lake County a 0-04 to 0-00 advantage.

But Longford, who overcomplicated at times with their short passing, were back on level terms by the 11th minute with Bernard McElvaney, Liam Keenan and Man of the Match Kavanagh (0-02) each raising white flags.

As the half wore on, twin targets Glennon and Dolan, who moved into full-forward straight after the throw-in, grew in stature with the Longford rearguard simply allowing them too much space.

Two further points from the pacy Glennon and a lovely left-footed score from Dolan nudged Westmeath 0-07 to 0-04 clear before midfielder Martin Flanagan tapped home the visitors' goal after Longford's Diarmuid Masterson had failed to field a dropping 45 from Dolan.

Westmeath continued to look strong with Fergal Wilson adding his name to the scoresheet. Glennon was then guilty of a poor miss when he found space to the left of the Longford square but shot straight at the imposing figure of Longford goalkeeper Damien Sheridan.

Longford ended a 24 minute spell without a score when Kavanagh stepped up to fire over an injury-time free as the hosts ended the half trailing by 1-10 to 0-05.

The introduction of David Barden, who had a suspension lifted during the week, proved crucial as Longford really lifted their game at the start of the second period.

The home side really clicked into gear with two goals from All Star nominee Kavanagh and a point from Paul Barden (free) cutting the gap to a single point.

Kavanagh was in the right place at the right time to fist home his first goal after Westmeath net minder Gary Connaughton had let a high ball slip through his fingers.

Paul Barden then stroked over a free before he sent a well-timed pass out for Kavanagh to drill a left-footed shot to the bottom right corner of Connaughton's goal and send the home supporters into raptures.

The sides were suddenly level for only the second time when Paul Barden sent over another point, and while Glennon soon took his personal tally to 0-04, Longford pulled through for a memorable win with a series of rapid points.

Kavanagh sent over an excellent point off his right, Dolan pegged one back with a free but a run of four straight Longford points was particularly telling. Smullen turned neatly to fire over, Hanniffy roared up from his centre-back berth to send the hosts in front for the first time in the 58th minute and substitute Davis and Kavanagh tagged on the closing scores.

In between, Davis had a pop at a goal but his rising shot was at a good height for Connaughton to swat away. Although John Connellan registered the final point of an enthralling match, Westmeath simply had no response to Longford's fiery second half display.

LONGFORD: D Sheridan; D Brady, D Masterson, D G Reilly; S Mulligan, D Hanniffy (0-01), N Farrell; B McElvaney (0-01), L Keenan (0-01); T Smullen (0-01), P Barden (0-02, 1f), P Berry; K Mulligan, P Dowd, B Kavanagh (2-06, 4f).

Subs used: D Barden for Keenan (half-time), K Smith for Berry (48 mins), P Davis (0-01) for K Mulligan (55), E Ledwith for Hanniffy (60).

WESTMEATH: G Connaughton; F Boyle, D O'Donoghue, J Keane; D Healy, M Ennis, K Gavin; M Flanagan (1-01), D O Shaughnessy (0-01); F Wilson (0-01, 1f), D Dolan (0-05, 2f), J Smyth; A Mangan, P Bannon, D Glennon (0-04).

Subs used: J Connellan (0-01) for Bannon (30 mins), D Heavin for Smyth (inj) (53), G Glennon for O'Donoghue (63), D Duffy for Wilson (63), G Dolan for Mangan (70).

Referee: Pat McEnaney (Monaghan).