Longford reward for free-flowing football

Longford 2-15 Carlow 1-8: Three weeks on from their refusal to bow to pragmatism and shut up shop against Dublin, Longford’s commitment to attractive football finally paid off on Saturday.

Longford reward for free-flowing football

Admittedly, the scalp of Division 4 Carlow is nowhere near as prized as that of Dublin, who ran up 4-25 on Longford during a 27-point Leinster championship drubbing.

But it was at least a reward for perseverance and a commitment to open, expansive football that fewer and fewer teams are willing to play.

Longford defended in numbers when they needed to, particularly during a claustrophobic first-half that they edged by 0-7 to 0-4.

But in the moments when the game opened up, mostly in the second-half, they were a menacing, multi-pronged force with willing runners sprinting from all angles.

Brian Kavanagh and Liam Connerton contributed 1-9 between them. Connerton and Dessie Reynolds netted in the third quarter.

“Once we got back the week after the Dublin game we sat down and had a chat about the whole thing,” said Longford manager Jack Sheedy. “I knew from that moment that fellas, even though they were disappointed with the Dublin result, that they really felt they could get it back on the road again.”

Midfielder Michael Quinn covered a huge amount of ground and picked off some wonderful passes, like the one for Connerton’s decisive 50th-minute goal.

Connerton himself was a late addition to the team in place of Ross McNerney who was only fit enough to appear as a sub. Alongside Dublin-based Kavanagh, he excelled.

“I thought the two lads did very, very well,” continued Sheedy. “Liam has been showing that potential for quite a while and Brian is a very experienced footballer and to have the two of them together and firing like that is a nice combination for us.”

Carlow came into the contest off a miserable Leinster championship performance too, leaking 3-16 to Laois. Manager Turlough O’Brien responded by playing a containment game in the midlands. At times, corner-forward Daryl Roberts was the only player in Carlow’s attacking half.

It worked initially and the sides were level at 0-4 apiece after 30 minutes in windswept conditions. But three points approaching half-time put Longford in the clear and those 48th and 50th minute goals sealed it.

“We were really competitive for 40 minutes,” said O’Brien. “I thought our game-plan worked really, really well. We played a counter-attacking game and it takes a huge level of fitness to do that.

“We tired in the end, dramatically I suppose, and Longford got on top. They had the wind advantage at that stage as well. There were no complaints with the result but I think we put in a performance where we showed pride in the jersey with no little skill or commitment. I think we have something to build on now.”

Carlow were missing arguably their top talent, former Aussie Rules player Brendan Murphy. “Brendan Murphy has gone to the States, Paul Broderick is injured since the first game of the league, one of the best forwards in the country, Barry John Molloy’s been injured, Brian Murphy is only back and John Murphy is injured,” said O’Brien.

“We felt we didn’t get the rub of the green all season.”

Scorers for Longford:

B Kavanagh (0-7, 6 frees), L Connerton (1-2), D Reynolds (1-1), D Masterson (0-2), F Battrim, M Quinn and R McEntire (0-1 each).

Scorers for Carlow:

D Roberts (1-0), B Murphy (0-3,2 frees), G Power, S Gannon, D St Ledger (0-1f), M Meaney and D Bambrick (0-1 each).

LONGFORD:

P Collum; D Brady, B O’Farrell, F Battrim; CP Smyth, B Gilleran, D Masterson; M Quinn, K Diffley; P Foy, D Reynolds, R McEntire; R Connor, B Kavanagh, L Connerton.

Subs:

P Gill for Foy (47), T Gallagher for Masterson (62), R McNerney for Reynolds (65), C Quaine for Kavanagh (68), A Farrell for Gilleran (70).

CARLOW:

R Molloy; D Kelly, S Redmond, K Nolan; G Power, D Hayden, B Kavanagh; S Gannon, E Ruth; M Meaney, D Foley, D Bambrick; B Murphy, D St Ledger, D Roberts.

Subs:

D Moran for Kelly (21), C Moran for Bambrick (56), E Finnegan for Meaney (62), D O’Brien for Roberts (63), A Kelly for Ruth (67), M Fitzgerald for Kavanagh (67).

Referee:

David Gough (Meath).

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