Longford 1-20 Donegal 1-12
Longford were crowned Lory Meagher Cup champions following their eight-point win over 14-man Donegal at Croke Park.
The Ulster men lost captain and full back Colm Breathnach after just six minutes when he picked up a second yellow card.
And with Garrett Ghee on song up front, Longford led from start to finish, with the talented corner forward helping himself to a 1-9 tally.
Donegal, who were beaten finalists last year as well, battled bravely, but were always struggling to overcome the numerical handicap.
Longford, who had earlier gone ahead through Garrett Ghee and John Newman, eased into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead following Breathnach’s dismissal, with Ghee adding two more, one a delightful solo effort.
By the end of the opening quarter, the Leinster men were 0-6 to 0-2 ahead with Eoin Donnellan contributing a well taken score, and corner forward Ghee adding to his tally.
But Donegal were determined to get themselves back into contention.Danny Cullen hammered over a free from halfway and added a point from play.
Lee Henderson also found the target as the Ulster men narrowed the deficit back to a point.
Longford stepped up the pace again, outscoring their opponents by five points to one in the final 10 minutes of the half, with Ghee bringing his tally to six, and Seanie Stakelum and Declan Tanner also splitting the posts.
They led by 0-12 to 0-7 at the break, and wasted a chance to go further ahead when Declan Tanner’s poorly struck penalty was deflected away for a ’65 which Donnellan converted.
Moments later they conceded a goal. Full back Sean Browne failed to clear a Kevin Campbell shot, and Paddy Hannigan nipped in to finish to the net from close range.
Henderson followed up with a point to leave just on e between the sides, but in the 46th minute, Ghee, fired a shot to the roof of the net to settle Longford nerves and give them a six points cushion.
Donegal still weren’t finished, and battled bravely right to the end. Points fomn Niall Campbell and Henderson kept their hopes alive, but Longford, with Browne a towering figure at full back, were always able to respond with scores of their own.
Joe O’Brien and substitute Fergal Daly tagged on points as the Midlanders held out for a worthy success.
Longford: P Cullen, B Stakem, S Browne, C Finucane, C Egan, S Hannon, R Donnellan, M Coyle, E Donnellan (0-2, 1’65), S Stakelum (0-1), N Casey, D Tanner (0-2), G Ghee (1-9 (0-5f)), J O’Brien (0-3), J Newman (0-1).
Subs: F Daly (0-1) for Coyle (blood 48-50), Daly for Stakelum (52), J Minnock (0-1) for Casey (67), B Stakelum for Newman (69), S Lynam for R Donnellan (70)
Donegal: P O’Brien, M Patton, C Breathnach, J McGhee, E McDermott (0-1), J Donnelly, A McDermott, P Hannigan (1-0), L Henderson (0-5, 3f), B Friel, M McCann (0-1), N Campbell (0-1), S Boyle, D Cullen (0-4, 3f), K Campbell.
Subs: J Boyle for S Boyle (15), S McVeigh for Patton (39), E Organ for McCann (70), M McGhee for K Campbell (70)
Referee: R Matthews (Antrim)