Longford were denied a famous victory when they finally lost their way against Donegal in Round 2A of the football qualifiers this evening, writes Alan Foley at Ballybofey.
The side managed by Denis Connerton were right in the mix at 0-5 to 0-5 on 49 minutes when James McGivney was dismissed following a second yellow card.
With the midlanders still cursing their luck - fellow half-forwards Daniel Mimnagh and Darren Gallagher had already seen black - Patrick McBrearty edged the home team in front.
From there, Donegal wouldn’t look back and although Diarmuid Masterson did momentarily restore parity for Longford, McBrearty would score five in all to help dig Rory Gallagher’s team out of a hole. The experience of Michael Murphy and substitute Martin McElhinney was also key for Donegal, with youngsters Eoin McHugh and Jamie Brennan scoring late on.
A five-point winning margin certainly looks a lot more comfortable for Donegal than things were in front of 9,915 at Ballybofey - a venue at which the hosts hadn’t lost at in league or championship since 2010.
That’s a run of 19 games and one might wonder what would’ve happened had Donegal been forced to make the trip to Pearse Park. Longford and Connerton will certainly wonder what might’ve been considering 17 wides but only two points from play in the Twin Towns.
At the break, Longford were 0-4 to 0-3 up thanks to David McGivney and Robbie Smyth’s frees with the latter passing up on a good goal chance on 22 minutes when in space.
Smyth had more room that he might’ve thought and and when a clean catch might’ve meant a one-on-one with Donegal goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley, an attempted slap went neither here nor there as it trickled wide.
It was, like so much else, something that might've worked out for Longford but it will be Donegal who enter Monday's Round 3A draw.
Donegal: Mark Anthony McGinley; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Caolan Ward; Eoin McHugh (0-1), Ryan McHugh, Eoin Ban Gallagher; Michael Murphy (0-2, 2f), Jason McGee; Michael Carroll, Frank McGlynn, Michael Langan; Ciaran Thompson, Patrick McBrearty (0-5, 4f), Martin O’Reilly. Subs: Martin McElhinney (0-2) for Carroll (28), Hugh McFadden for J.McGee (49), Jamie Brennan (0-1) for O’Reilly (53), Mark McHugh for McGlynn (55), Karl Lacey for Langan (56), Paul Brennan for Gallagher (65).
Longford: Paddy Collum; Diarmuid Masterson (0-1), Padraig McCormack, Barry Gilleran; Donal McElligot, Michael Quinn, Dessie Reynolds; John Keegan, David McGivney (0-3, 3f); Daniel Mimnagh, James McGivney, Darren Gallagher; Robbie Smyth (0-3, 2f), Liam Connerton, Barry McKeon. Subs: Conor Berry for Mimnagh (black card, 26), Larry Moran for Gallagher (black card, 41), Andrew Farrell for McKeon (65), Ronan McIntyre for D.McGivney (65), Joe Kelly for Connerton (70).
Referee: Padraig Hughes (Armagh).