Longford stave off Derry fightback to take deserved win

Derry 2-14 Longford 2-16

Longford stave off Derry fightback to take deserved win

Derry 2-14 Longford 2-16

Longford sent Derry crashing out of the championship for the second time in three years with a thoroughly deserved victory at Celtic Park.

Derry fought back from five points down to draw level with seven minutes remaining after goals from Benny Heron and Mark Lynch, who top-scored with 1-4.

Longford responded immediately with a superb dummy and finish to the net from substitute Mark Hughes, whose 64th minute goal was the decisive score in an entertaining game.

Jack Sheedy's side were relegated to division four this spring, but they were comfortable against a Derry side who contested the division one final just two months ago.

Nine different Longford players scored from play and the long-range shooting of man of the match Paul Barden, Francis McGee, Michael Quinn, Brian Kavanagh and Sean McCormack, was the telling factor as Longford added to their back-door wins over Derry in 2006 and 2012.

Derry scored the opening three points of the game inside seven minutes, teenage rookie Terence O'Brien among the scorers, and also led 0-7 to 0-3 after 25 minutes.

But Paul Barden's goal before half-time got Longford's noses in front and they led by 1-6 to 0-7 at the break.

Barden had been denied twice by Derry goalkeeper Thomas Mallon who pulled off fine saves in the first half, but he made it third time lucky with a great finish from Brian Kavanagh's assist on 30 minutes.

A depleted Derry, without six of the starters who lost to Donegal in the Ulster championship, crumbled spectacularly in the second half. Even when the brilliant Lynch and James Kielt got scores on the board, they were undone by a porous defence and shaky midfield.

Derry tried four different markers on the brilliant Barden, who scored 1-2 from play, while Francis McGee had a hand in most of their attacks.

Longford continued the second half where they'd left off before the interval. Former AFL star Michael Quinn made up for a quiet first half with two points from play, one off either foot, while defenders Shane Mulligan and Barry Gilleran bombed forward to stretch their lead to four points.

Benny Heron's '45' ended a 15-minute scoring drought for Derry. Longford's ability to kick long-range scores, with McGee becoming their seventh player to score from play, maintained their comfortable lead.

Derry started pushing for a goal – and ended up getting two in two minutes from Benny Heron and a screamer from skipper Lynch. Heron toe-poked his shot through a sea of bodies to ignite the fightback.

Lynch's strike from 20m with seven minutes to go somehow brought Derry level at 2-11 to 1-14 but Hughes' dummy and finish was the decisive score in an entertaining game.

Scorers for Derry – M Lynch 1-04 (2f), J Kielt 0-04 (1f), E Lynn 0-02, T O'Brien 0-02, B Heron 1-01 (a '45'), SL McGoldrick 0-01

Scorers for Longford – S McCormack 0-04 (2f), P Barden 1-02, M Hughes 1-0, B Kavanagh 0-03 (1f), C Smyth 0-01, S Mulligan 0-01, M Quinn 0-02, B Gilleran 0-01, F McGee 0-02

DERRY: T Mallon; O Duffy, C McKaigue, A McAlynn; G McKinless, M Craig, SL McGoldrick; M Lynch, K Johnston; A Devlin, E Bradley, E Lynn; J Kielt, T O'Brien, C McFaul

Subs: G O'Kane for McAlynn (BC, 14), B Heron for Duffy (24), N Holly for E Bradley (HT), D McKinless for Devlin (41)

LONGFORD: D Sheridan; D Brady, B Gilleran, F Battrim; C Smyth, E Williams, S Mulligan; B O'Farrell, K Diffley; M Quinn, F McGee, P Barden; A Rowan, B Kavanagh, S McCormack

Subs: M Hughes for Rowan (61), N Mulligan for Diffley (64)

REFEREE: Martin Higgins (Fermanagh)

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