Longford 2-9 Wexford 0-15
There was drama at the conclusion of this entertaining Leinster SFC quarter-final at Croke Park, as Seán McCormack needed to convert a free with the last kick of the game to secure a second bite of the cherry for Longford.
Glenn Ryan’s charges had led for three-quarters of the game but when Wexford corner-back, Rob Tierney pointed in the 69th minute, it looked like the Model County men would snatch the honours.
Bernard McElvaney chased one last lost cause however and won possession in the 72nd minute to send Longford substitute Paul Kelly in on goal.
Referee Michael Collins adjudged that a combination of Tierney and Bradley fouled the Longford substitute and McCormack did the necessary to ensure a replay.
The first half was strange in that Wexford had much of the possession and certainly monopolised the game in terms of scoring opportunities, but yet it was hard to argue with Longford deserving their half time advantage of 1-6 to 0-7, given that they had spurned two gilt-edged goal-scoring chances.
Longford opened the scoring thanks to a fine second minute point from the brilliant Brian Kavanagh, after good direct work by McCormack.
Ciarán Lyng had Wexford level very promptly, courtesy of his trusty left boot and after wasting an earlier effort, Adrian Flynn came forward from half-back to launch a wonderful effort from the left wing with the outside of his right boot.
Kavanagh had the sides level with Longford’s first attack in a while and then exchanged scores with Flynn, before the lively McCormack pointed a free after being fouled himself.
The Killoe marksman had a tremendous chance to goal in the 22nd minute but his low shot was saved by Wexford goalkeeper, Anthony Masterson.
Almost immediately afterwards, Niall Mulligan screwed his shot horribly wide from the 13m line with only Masterson to beat.
Wexford stuck the knife in by firing over two quick points at the other end courtesy of Ben Brosnan and Lyng frees.
The latter score came after the Model men had half a goal chance, as Rory Quinlivan’s shot at point rebounded off the upright and almost fell for Shane Roche, but Longford ‘keeper Damien Sheridan did well to snuff out the danger.
Then came the move of the game though as Mulligan exchanged passes out the field before attempting another one-two with McCormack. Daithi Waters impeded him in the square as he went for the return and referee Michael Collins had no option but to award the penalty.
With just over five minutes remaining until half time, Paul Barden sent Masterson the wrong way and when Kavanagh made the most of another well-placed pass from deep to register his fourth point, Longford’s tails were up.
Wexford were settled by two fine scores from Eric Bradley and Flynn’s third before McCormack added his second free in injury time to give his side a two-point interval advantage.
Jason Ryan’s half-time team-talk certainly did the trick as Wexford came out with three points on the trot. Redmond Barry got them on their way and Flynn brought them level with a brace that brought the wing-back’s tally to five.
The irrepressible Barden reinvigorated Longford with a 44th-minute goal, and his brother David almost sealed the game from the next attack but was denied by Masterson.
Mulligan did get a point though but Wexford hit back once more courtesy of Brosnan (free) and Barry.
Longford still held a point advantage until Barry tempted a foul from Barry Gilleran and Brosnan calmly converted from wide on the left flank.
And it was Tierney who seemed the unlikely hero when showing up on Lyng’s shoulder to take a pass and slot over from 25m on the right before McCormack saved the day for Longford.
Scorers: Longford: P Barden 2-0(1-0pen); B Kavanagh 0-4, S McCormack (2fs) 0-4 each; N Mulligan 0-1
Wexford: A Flynn 0-5; C Lyng(1f), B Brosnan(fs) 0-3 each; R Barry 0-2; E Bradley, R Tierney 0-1 each
Longford: D Sheridan; D Brady, B Gilleran, D Reilly; CP Smyth, M Quinn, S Mulligan; B McElvaney, J Keegan; D Barden, P Barden, N Mulligan; D McEWlligott, B Kavanagh, S McCormack. Subs: P Kelly for D Barden blood (51-54); Kelly for McElligott (56)
Wexford: A Masterson; N Murphy, G Molloy, R Tierney; L Chin, B Malone, A Flynn; D Waters, R Quinlivan; C Carty, E Bradley, B Brosnan; C Lyng, R Barry, S Roche. Subs: PJ Banville for Carty (40); P Byrne for Roche (56); C Morris for Quinlivan (64); J Wadding for Flynn (70+1)
Referee: M Collins (Corcaigh).