Longford 0-15 Tyrone 1-17
Tyrone had to dig deep to avoid a shock at Pearse Park, where they came good in the second half to get the better of a courageous Longford side.
The Red Hands took a long time to get to grips with the energy and drive of Glen Ryan’s men, but a Mark Donnelly goal early in the second half set them on their way.
A superb seven points tally from Peter Harte was one of the highlights of a Red Hand display which has renewed hope among their fans that they can put together another run in the qualifiers and make a serious challenge for All-Ireland honours.
Kyle Coney sing over an early point, and was involved in the build-up which almost led to a Tyrone goal, but goalkeeper Damien Sheridna pulled off a blinding save from Mark Donnelly.
Longford took the lead with scores from Bran Kavanagh and Paul Barden, and as play swung from end to end, the sides were level three times in the opening 10 minutes.
Peter Harte swung over a superb score from the left wing to edge the Ulster side back in front, but an equally magnificent Donal McElligot effort had the Midlanders back on terms.
The standard of finishing just got better and better as the game progressed, and it was Sean McCormack who launched a sublime effort to regain the lead for Glen Ryan’s side on 15 minutes.
With full forward Kavanagh proving a handful for Joe McMahon, the Leinster men were growing in confidence and spraying passes to their pacey wing men, hitting the front again at 0-6 to 0-5 with a McCormack free, the previous 10 points having come from play.
Harte’s third score levelled it for the sixth time, but McCormack’s fourth sent Longford in with a 0-8 to 0-7 interval lead.
Tyrone made a dream start to the second half with a 1-3 blitz in the opening five minutes to take control.
Mark Donnelly finished off a move involving Philip Jordan, Martin Penrose and Coney for the only goal of the game, and there were points from Penrose, Sean Cavanagh and Donnelly as they made it 1-10 to 0-9.
Cassidy plucked a series of balls from the air to set Tyrone on the attack, and with 10 minutes to play, they led by 1-14 to 0-10.
Longford battled bravely, and some excellent scores from Kavanagh and McCormack kept their hopes alive.
McCormack brought his tally to six, but the Red Hands brought their vast experience to bear on the contest, and late scores from Harte and Tommy McGuigan sealed a comfortable win.
Longford: D Sheridan, D Brady, B Gilleran, D Reilly, S Mulligan, K Diffley, N Farrell (0-1), B McElvaney, M Brady, D Barden, D McElligot (0-1), P Barden (0-1), F McGee (0-3), B Kavanagh (0-3), S McCormack (0-6, 2f).
Subs: N Mulligan for McElligot (55), C Smith for Diffley (59), J McGivney for McElvaney (64)
Tyrone: P McConnell, C Gormley, Joe McMahon, D Carlin, R McMenamin, Justin McMahon, P Jordan, A Cassidy, S Cavanagh (0-2, 2f), C Cavanagh (0-2), B McGuigan, P Harte (0-7, 1f), M Penrose (0-2, 1f), M Donnelly (1-2), K Coney (0-1).
Subs: B Dooher for McGuigan (h-t), Sean O’Neill for Gormley (55), O Mulligan for Penrose (55), C McCarron for Carlin (62), T McGuigan (0-1) for Coney (67)
Referee: P McEnaney (Monaghan).