Louth 1-11 Longford 1-7
Louth will play Kildare in the Leinster SFC quarter-final in Navan in a fortnight, after coming out on top in a poor encounter at O’Moore Park today.
Longford shot 14 wides, many of them from good opportunities but Louth were in any case the more deserving winners, dominating much of the possession thanks to the ball-winning of team captain, Paddy Keenan, and Brian White.
They also denied their opponents possession in the danger zone in the final 25 minutes.
The Wee County men had a numerical advantage in this area, as Longford used Declan Reilly in a withdrawn role as sweeper between his side’s full-back and half-back lines.
The first half in particular was a dreadful, error-strewn affair with the standard of kick-passing absolutely terrible. Time after time possession was given away, quite often kicked straight out over the sideline by players that were under no pressure whatsoever.
It took almost the last action of the half to separate the teams, when Louth full-forward Shane Lennon imperiously caught a long delivery from Keenan, before turning and dispatching to the Longford net.
Peter Fitzpatrick’s men had the better of the exchanges in the opening quarter, with points from Keenan, JP Rooney, Colm Judge and Brian White (free) pushing them three points clear, Seán McCormack having provided the only response.
Despite struggling at midfield, Longford gradually clawed themselves back into proceedings, with Paddy Dowd’s strength and McCormack’s movement causing some problems to the Louth defence.
Dowd and Mulligan reduced the margin to the minimum and though White slotted a free and Colm Judge notched up a point, a brace from Francis McGee and McCormack’s third score had the sides level.
But Lennon struck for what was undoubtedly the game’s critical score to put Louth 1-6 to 0-6 ahead going in at half time.
Mind you, half-time substitute Bernard McElvany hit back in kind four minutes into the second half, running onto a deft pass by Declan Reilly to loop a shot into the corner of the Louth net.
They had the ball in the net again within seconds, after a good interchange between Shane Mulligan and Dowd, but Mulligan’s attempted point with the fist dropped under the bar and was rightly ruled out.
Peter Foy did point fairly soon afterwards though and Longford were in front for the first time.
That lead lasted no more than a minute though as Glenn Ryan’s crew failed to register another score, while Louth gradually, if in somewhat laboured fashion, pulled away.
Keenan, White (free), Rooney, Judge (free) were all on the mark before Declan Byrne sent a kick sailing over from wide on the right to seal the victory.
Louth: N Gallagher; E McAuly, D Finnegan, R Greene; R Finnegan, M Fanning, J O’Brien; P Keenan 0-2, B White 0-3(fs); A McDonnell, M Brennan, A Reid; C Judge 0-3(1f), S Lennon 1-0, JP Rooney 0-1. Subs: D Byrne 0-1 for McDonnell (51); A Hoey for Rooney (64)
Longford: D Sheridan; D Brady, D Masterson, S Hannon; S Mulligan, E Williams, P Foy; A O’Connor, B Gilleran; D Reilly, F McGee 0-2(1f), P Barden; S McCormack 0-3, P Dowd 0-1, K Mulligan 0-1. Sub: B McElvaney 1-0 for Gilleran (ht)
Referee: P Fox (Westmeath)