/ GAA

Longford 0-19 Offaly 0-15

Updated: Sunday, 18 May 2014 20:23 | Comments

Longford's Mark Hughes battles with Niall Darby and Johnny Moloney of Offaly
Longford's Mark Hughes battles with Niall Darby and Johnny Moloney of Offaly

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Longford produced an excellent display of scoring this afternoon in Pearse Park to overcome Offaly by 0-19 to 0-15.

They secured a Leinster championship quarter final meeting with Wexford as all six starting forwards registered at least one point from play for the home side.

Niall McNamee was in scintillating form in the first quarter and he helped the Faithful County into an 0-7 to 0-3 lead.

However, Longford halved that deficit by the interval and completely took control after the break, dominating possession and wearing their opponents down with a string of scores. 

Seán McCormack top scored for the home side with seven points, while Brian Kavanagh also looked sharp with three second half scores, though Jack Sheedy will be disappointed that his side failed to score a goal despite creating several clear cut chances throughout the tie.

Both these sides may have come into this fixture on the back of league relegation but they played with real freedom in the early stages and Longford led by the odd score in three after the first five minutes but Offaly took over for the remainder of the first quarter, with McNamee giving a vintage performance at the edge of the square, causing havoc from both high and low deliveries.

McNamee set up Peter Cunningham for a long range equaliser then kicked a free he won himself before beating three players and feeding Ruairí Allen to make it 0-04 to 0-02 to Offaly.

Longford replied with a very well worked Mark Hughes point down the left wing but Offaly continued to look very sharp every time they went forward and they added to their lead with accurate kicks from Joe Maher and McNamee down the flanks.

Another stunning McNamee kick as he ran diagonally down the right wing left the Faithful County in very good shape but as Longford began to take control of the restarts they soon came back into the tie.

Critically, McNamee also set up his side’s only real goal chance during this phase but Dermot Brady made a vital block on the line to deny Cunningham.

The sides exchanged points before Longford could have had two goals in as many minutes, both chances falling to Paul Barden. Brian Kavanagh played in the Clonguish veteran the first time around and his initial effort was smothered by Alan Mulhall.

The Offaly goalkeeper appeared to spill possession and Barden toe-poked the loose ball into the net, but after consulting with his umpires, referee Martin Higgins disallowed the strike.

Almost immediately Barden had another chance from an identical position, this time set up by a good diagonal pass from McCormack, however, he pulled his shot wide to the left, across the face of the goal.

Offaly continued to look sharp on the break and Graham Guilfoyle did well to kick one long range score and set up another free kick which McNamee converted, but Longford got back to two points adrift at the break, 0-10 to 0-08, and did not lose a step over half time as two Kavanagh points and a McCormack free gave them an early lead.

Some poor shooting from Longford left Offaly in the game but there was no escape from the fact that the home side were in complete control of the battle for primary possession, while Offaly were visibly tiring as they had to make tackles the whole way through the half.

McCormack was finding room all across the full-forward line and kicked three points either side of a Barden score to make it 0-16 to 0-11, however, Offaly then had a mini-revival and reduced the gap to two thanks to points from Cunningham, McNamee and Ciarán Hurley.

Without a regular supply of ball and now playing with 14 men after David Hanlon was sent off for a second bookable offence, Offaly simply could not get any closer and Longford closed out the victory with injury-time points from Barden and Kavanagh.

Longford: D Sheridan; D Brady, B O’Farrell, F Battrim; CP Smyth, E Williams, S Mulligan (0-01); J Keegan, S Doyle; M Quinn (0-01), F McGee (0-03), P Barden (0-02); M Hughes (0-02), B Kavanagh (0-03), S McCormack (0-07, 0-05f).

Substitutes: P Foy for Doyle (54), M Brady for Keegan (56), A Rowan for Hughes (60).

Offaly: A Mulhall; D Brady, D Hanlon, N Darby; B Darby, J Moloney, M Brazil; R Allen (0-01), N Smith; E Carroll, G Guilfoyle (0-02), A Sullivan; J Maher (0-02), N McNamee (0-07, 0-03 frees), P Cunningham (0-02).

Substitutes: N Geraghty for Allen (43), C Hurley (0-01) for Guilfoyle (58), P McPadden for Maher (63).

Referee: Martin Higgins (Fermanagh).

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