Longford return to the second tier of the Allianz Football League as Division Three champions following a 1-12 to 0-13 victory over Wexford at Croke Park.

Sean McCormack steered over 0-07 and substitute Paul Kelly grabbed a stoppage time goal as dominant Longford built up a 1-10 to 0-03 interval lead.

Wexford, with Ciaran Lyng and Redmond Barry on target, trimmed a nine-point deficit back to two, but McCormack, with a 0-09 tally, kept his side on course for victory.

Longford displayed a willingness to run at a nervous Wexford defence in the opening stages and they were rewarded with a string of points, three of them frees from Sean McCormack.

Niall Mulligan also steered over a neat point from play as Glen Ryan’s men eased into a 0-04 to 0-00 lead.

It wasn’t until the 13th minute that Wexford got off the mark, Ciaran Lyng despatching a difficult free with an expert strike.

But Longford were the more disciplined and focused side, their industry forcing turnovers and frustrating their opponents’ attempts to build attacking momentum.

The experienced Paul Barden showed that he has lost none of his class, firing over two inspirational points as the Midlanders moved into a 0-06 to 0-01 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

Midfielder John Keegan provided the energy and impetus for McCormack to claim his first score from play, and Wexford were growing increasingly frustrated, their key attackers, Ben Brosnan and PJ Banville unable to get into the game.

Dermot Brady and Barry Gilleran excelled at the back as Longford repelled a series of attacks in an impressive shut-out.

Redmond Barry did slice over a gem, but that was quickly cancelled out by McCormack’s fifth of the evening.

And they turned the screw in stoppage time when Brian Kavanagh laid on the defence-splitting pass for substitute Paul Kelly to slide the ball to the net with his first touch.

Longford led by 1-10 to 0-03 at the halfway stage, but it was Wexford who carried the attacking impetus after the break.

They chipped away at the deficit, Lyng and Barry hitting the points that sparked their revival.

Two McCormack frees was the sum total of Longford’s second half scoring, and they needed a massive effort from Brady and Quinn to hold out in the face of a Wexford rampage.

Daithi Waters was a key figure at midfield as Jason Ryan’s men played their way back into it.

With PJ Banville showing his class with a brilliant point, and substitute Shane Roche banging over two quality scores, they looked as if they could pull off an unlikely victory.

Wing back Adrian Flynn pressed forward to shoot a point, and when Eric Bradley finally got some reward for his foraging with a 63rd minute score, just a goal separated the sides.

Wexford continued to press, but with Longford flooding bodies back to assist with the survival effort, they could only manage a stoppage time free from top scorer Lyng.

Longford: D Sheridan, D Brady, B Gilleran, D Reilly, C Smyth, M Quinn, S Mulligan, B McElvaney, J Keegan, P McCormack, P Barden (0-02), N Mulligan (0-01), D McElligot, S McCormack (0-09, 6f), B Kavanagh.

Subs: P Kelly (1-00) for P McCormack (35), J McGinty for Mulligan (58), F McGee for McElligot (69)

Wexford: A Masterson, R Tierney, G Molloy, N Murphy, B Malone, D Murphy, A Flynn (0-01), A Shore, D Waters, R Barry (0-03, 1f), C Lyng (0-04, 3f), B Brosnan (0-1), C Morris, E Bradley (0-01), PJ Banville (0-01).

Subs: L Chin for Murphy (20), R Quinlivan for Shore (44), P Byrne for Brosnan (44), S Roche (0-02) for Morris (50), C Carthy for Bradley (70)

Referee: C Lane (Cork).