A goal from full-forward Frank Burke in the 21st minute helped the students to a 1-5 to 0-7 interval lead before Adam Caul and Anton Sullivan added points on the restart.
Longford stormed back with points from Francis McGee (2), JJ Matthews, Sean McCormack (free) and Shane Mulligan but had keeper James McKenna to thank for a super save from Anton Sullivan. At the other end Gary Connaughton kept his side in contention when denying JJ Matthews and James McGivney in an exciting conclusion to the tie.
LONGFORD: J McKenna; P Foy, F Battrim, D Reilly; C P Smyth, S Mulligan (0-1), P Brady; J Keegan, J O’Shea; M Quinn, D McElligott, D Barden; F McGee (0-5), B Kavanagh (0-2), S McCormack (0-4, 3f).
Subs: K Diffley for J O’Shea (inj, 7); JJ Matthews (0-1) for D McElligott (ht); E Williams for P Brady (52); J McGivney for J Keegan (52).
ATHLONE IT: G Connaughton; R Dunne, C Duignan, D Maleady; A Rowan, M McCallion, L Murphy; G Egan, P Bannon (0-1); A Caul (0-1), D Cash, E Clarke (0-2, 2f); P Masterson, F Burke (1-0), A Sullivan (0-5, 2f).
Subs: O Sheridan for E Clarke (ht); T Rahill for R Dunne (53); P McGee for A Rowan (58); D McGovern for A Caul (65).
Referee: F Smyth (Offaly).