By John Fogarty
Longford 1-6 Cork 2-9
Cork progressed to Round 4A of the All-Ireland qualifiers this afternoon largely thanks to the half-time introductions of Colm O’Neill and Pa Kelly.
After a dire first half, Cork scored 1-4 without reply in the opening 16 minutes of the second half, the first of those scores ending 34 minutes without one.
Replacements O’Neill and Kelly scored 1-2 between them, O’Neill showing his finishing prowess for the 49th minute goal after being set up by Sean Powter.
Powter and Michael Hurley added plenty of vim to Cork’s general play in that period, which was in such contrast to the first half when they looked so out of sorts.
In Kelly and O’Neill, the ball was sticking in the full-forward line and Kelly was the architect of Ian Maguire’s 61st minute goal, which crowned the win for the visitors.
Both sides lost a man following a brief melee in the 53rd minute, which resulted in straight red cards for James Loughrey, Darren Gallagher and a yellow card for James McGivney.
Having seen Michael Brady retire early to injury, Longford were without their starting midfield pair.
Cork’s start was promising and but for a Paddy Collum block in the second minute Peter Kelleher would have been in for his second goal in as many games.
It was Kelleher’s highlight in a difficult half for the young Kilmichael man who was hounded by the Longford full-back line.
Points from Loughrey and Paul Kerrigan were the result of Cork putting serious pressure on the Longford kick-out as was Hurley’s effort in the 10th minute, which put them 0-3 to 0-1 ahead.
But Hurley’s strike was their last score of the half. Cork began to struggle on their own kick-out as Alan O’Connor found himself swamped and Longford, guilty of some poor wides as were Cork, were level in the 19th minute when Diarmuid Masterson angled over a fine point.
Then came the penalty goal six minutes later when Robbie Smyth lost his marker Noel Galvin.
Although Galvin didn’t appear to foul Smyth, Barry Cassidy thought otherwise despite Smyth being able to find the net. Brian Kavanagh stood up and put Ryan Price the wrong way.
James McGivney added a point in the 34th minute to give Longford a four-point lead, 1-4 to 0-3, going into the break. One they deserved for simply being less awful than their opponents.
Scorers for Longford: B. Kavanagh (1-1, 1-0 pen); R. Smyth (0-2, 1 free); D. Masterson, J. McGivney, M. Quinn (0-1 each).
Scorers for Cork: C. O’Neill (1-1, 0-1 free); I. Maguire (1-0); M. Collins, P. Kerrigan (free) (0-2 each); J. Loughrey, M. Hurley, P. Kelly, J. O’Rourke (0-1 each).
LONGFORD: P. Collum; D. McElligott, B. Gilleran, B. O’Farrell; C. Farrelly, D. Brady, M. Quinn; M. Brady, D. Gallagher; D. Masterson, B. McKeon, J. McGivney; R. Smyth, B. Kavanagh, L. Connerton.
Subs for Longford: M. Hughes for M. Brady (inj, 46); P. McGee for B. McKeon (54); D. Reynolds for L. Connerton (63); B. Farrell for B. Kavanagh (65).
Sent off: M. Brady (straight, 53); D. Masterson (second yellow, 69).
CORK: R. Price; C. O’Driscoll, E. Cadogan, N. Galvin; B. O’Driscoll, J. Loughrey, T. Clancy (Fermoy); A. O’Connor, I. Maguire; K. O’Driscoll, M. Collins, M. Hurley; D. Goulding, P. Kelleher, P. Kerrigan.
Subs for Cork: S. Powter for B. O’Driscoll (35+1); C. O’Neill for D. Goulding, P. Kelly for K. O’Driscoll (both h-t); J. O’Rourke for P. Kelleher (58); R. Deane for A. O’Connor (70); S. Cronin for C. O’Neill (black, 70+4).
Sent off: J. Loughrey (straight, 53).
Referee: B. Cassidy (Derry)