Longford 2-15 Carlow 1-08

Longford booked their place in round two of the football qualifiers with a 10-point win over Carlow at Glennon Brothers, Pearse Park.

Both teams came into the game on the back of heavy Leinster championship defeats and for the first 45 minutes of this fixture, it was easy to see how they could have succumbed to those hammerings from Dublin and Carlow.

Longford looked flat and uninterested while their attacking play heavily reliant on the work of Liam Connerton, who was a late inclusion in their starting line up at the expense of injury doubt Ross McNerney.

Carlow for their part seemed much more inspired and willing to give a good account of themselves, however key handling and passing errors cost them dearly and ensured that they spent all of thirteen minutes getting off the mark, by which time Longford were three points to the good despite working into the teeth of the wind.

The tricky diagonal breeze made life exceedingly difficult for Longford but didn’t appear to help Carlow either as they couldn’t find a way to pick off scores from range, David Bambrick’s forty metre effort their only long distance point of the half.

Carlow never led in the tie but they dug their heels back into the contest, aided by two fantastic saves from Robbie Molloy and Darragh Foley that denied Connerton and Rory Connor from clear goal chances.

They looked to be by far the more motivated side early in the second half as Graham Power and Michael Meaney struck glorious points from play that would have lit up any stage, however Longford always found their scores that bit easier to come by and this bore fruit for them to spectacular effect after 47 minutes.  

A hit and hope ball in from Diarmuid Masterson turned out to be a crucial intervention as Carlow failed to clear their lines and Connerton was able to intervene, win possession and set up Dessie Reynolds, who in turn produced a cool and accurate finish underneath Molloy.

Carlow bounced back with a lobbed goal from Daryl Roberts, capitalising on great approach play from Brian Murphy and Sean Gannon, but their hope was extinguished as quickly as it sprung to life as Connerton turned his marker and blasted the ball to the net in the 50th minute, the third major in a little over three minutes

Carlow continued to battle with intensity and vigour but they lacked the scoring power that Longford possessed, as evidenced by the fact that no Carlow player scored more than once from play.

Longford were able to move through the gears in the closing stages and they added late scores from Fergal Battrim, Michael Quinn and Ronan McEntire to bring about a double figure winning margin and secure their place in Monday morning’s round two draw.

Longford: P Collum; D Brady, B O’Farrell, F Battrim (0-01); CP Smyth, B Gilleran, D Masterson (0-02); M Quinn (0-01), K Diffley; P Foy, D Reynolds (1-01), R McEntire (0-01); R Connor, B Kavanagh (0-07, 0-06 frees), L Connerton (1-02).    

Subs: P Gill for Foy (46), T Gallagher for Masterson (61), R McNerney for Reynolds (65), C Quaine for Kavanagh (68), A Farrell for Gilleran (70)

Carlow: R Molloy; D Kelly, S Redmond, K Nolan; G Power, D Hayden, B Kavanagh; S Gannon, E Ruth (0-01); M Meaney (0-01), D Foley, D Bambrick (0-01); B Murphy (0-03, 0-02 frees), D St Ledger (0-01 free), D Roberts (1-00).

Subs: D Moran for Kelly (19), C Moran for Bambrick (56), E Finnegan for Meaney (61), D O’Brien for Roberts (63), A Kelly for Ruth (67), M Fitzgerald for Kavanagh (67) 

Referee: David Gough (Meath)