Furlong goal helps Wicklow past Longford

Furlong goal helps Wicklow past Longford

Wicklow 1-15 Longford 0-16, Aughrim

A Seanie Furlong goal proved crucial as Wicklow got the better of Longford in the first round of the Leinster Senior Football Championship at Aughrim.

Longford were 0-9 to 0-5 behind at the break despite playing with a wind advantage, as a run of points from Joey Kelly, Furlong and Patrick McWalter moved Wicklow ahead.

Furlong's expertly finished goal, two minutes into the second half, put six points between the sides but Longford's ace free-taker Seanie McCormack reduced the arrears to two by the 53rd minute.

Although Longford pressed late on, Harry Murphy's home side stubbornly held onto the lead as points from James Stafford and Furlong - their 1-05 scoring hero - saw them through to a home quarter-final against Meath in two weeks' time.

Glenn Ryan's charges had been favoured to overcome the home side, but Wicklow got off to a business-like start, passing the ball with conviction and creating openings for John McGrath, Stafford, Dean Healy, Furlong and Kelly.

That flurry of scores sent Wicklow into a 0-05 to 0-01 lead after just nine minutes, with McCormack having shot Longford ahead from a placed ball initially.

The gap was pared down by pointed efforts from Paul Barden, Robbie Smyth and McCormack. However, with Stafford standing out in midfield, Wicklow reopened that four-point buffer with another series of points - the best of them coming from centre back McWalter.

On the restart, it was Longford who made the early headway thanks to a point from substitute Donal McElligott. The pressure was back on Wicklow and they responded in brilliant fashion, Darren Hayden and Darragh O'Sullivan teeing up Furlong for the only goal of the game.

The visitors turned to the reliable McCormack for scoring inspiration and he delivered, landing three points on the trot as they erased the damage caused by the goal.

At times, Wicklow looked like they were willing the final whistle to come as soon as possible as they clung onto a narrow lead, the tension increased by McCormack's accurate shooting and a Francis McGee goal-bound effort that Wicklow stopper John Flynn managed to smother out.

Time was not on Longford's side and although McGee and McCormack cancelled out late points from Stafford and Furlong, a match-winning goal eluded them as Wicklow march on to a mouth-watering showdown with Meath.

WICKLOW: J Flynn; C Hyland, D Power, A Byrne; D Hayden, P McWalter (0-01), D Healy (0-02); A McLoughlin (0-01), J Stafford (0-02); J Kelly (0-02), R Finn, D O’Sullivan; B McCrea, S Furlong (1-05, 0-01f), J McGrath (0-02).

Subs used: A O’Malley for McCrea, P Dalton for Kelly (both 54 mins).

LONGFORD: D Sheridan; D Brady, B Gilleran, D Reilly; C Smyth, M Quinn, S Mulligan; J Keegan (0-01), M Brady; B McElvaney (0-01), P Barden (0-02), P McCormack; R Smyth (0-01), F McGee (0-02), S McCormack (0-06, 0-03f).

Subs used: D McElligott (0-02) for Quinn (20 mins), A Rowan for Brady (28), F Battrim for C Smyth (41), JJ Matthews (0-01) for R Smyth (54), N Mulligan for McElligott (67).

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry)

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