Longford 2-15 Louth 1-10
Longford impressed throughout as they began their All-Ireland campaign, with a well-earned eight-point SFC Round 1 qualifier win against 13 men Louth at Drogheda's Gaelic Grounds.
The visitors fired seven first half wides, but led for the most part, with Louth leading 0-4 to 0-3 after 20 minutes, following a James Califf score, before Longford claimed a firm grip of the score-board.
Longford came into this game with Sean McCormack, Brian Kavanagh and Darren Gallagher on the injury list, while Louth had a full squad to choose from.
The visitors made one change to their announced line-up, with Daniel Mimnagh replacing the injured Darren Gallagher.
Denis Connerton's charges settled quickest, with Michael Quinn claiming the opening score after four minutes, and moving 0-3 to 0-1 ahead 10 minutes later following two Robbie Smyth scores.
Louth took the lead for the first time in the 21st minute, but David McGivney quickly levelled matters.
Longford regained the lead through Robbie Smyth in the 30th minute, and pushed 0-9 to 0-5 ahead at half-time, with Smyth and corner-back Barry Gilleran among those on target.
A Smyth point from a sideline kick provided the final score of the half in the second minute of injury-time, and was certainly one of the standout scores in this contest.
The visitors made the best possible start to the second half, after Liam Connerton netted a penalty goal a minute after the restart.
Louth were firmly on the backfoot, but Ryan Burns tried to compose matters with a 40th minute point, while Eoin O'Connor netted a goal three minutes later to cut the gap to three points.
Louth manager Colin Kelly had emptied the bench, using five substitutes by the 46th minute, but Longford continued to work hard.
Some of the visitors shooting may have been questionable, but they still managed to pick off scores.
Dessie Reynolds, Smyth and David McGivney continued to add to the Midlanders tally, as they moved 1-13 to 1-6 ahead with 14 minutes of normal time remaining.
Smyth saw Red after picking up his second yellow card in the 57th minute, with Longford now reduced to 14 men.
The sides were levelled up, after substitute Tommy Durnin was dismissed in the 63rd minute, before things began to go right for Longford once more.
Barry McKeon added their second goal with eight minutes remaining, after a powerful shot, while also putting in a strong shift at the back.
Larry Moran got in for a fine point, with Louth reduced to 12 players late on with Ryan Burns and Patrick Reilly also sent to the line, as Longford claimed an eight-point win.
Longford scorers: Robbie Smyth (4f) 0-7; Liam Connerton 1-1; Barry McKeon 1-0; David McGivney (2f) 0-2; Barry Gilleran, Michael Quinn, Dessie Reynolds, John Keegan, Larry Moran 0-1 each.
Louth scorers: James Califf (2f) 0-3; Eoin O'Connor 1-0; John Bingham, Ryan Burns (1f) 0-2 each; Jim McEneaney, Tommy Durnin, Gerard McSorley (1f) 0-1 each.
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Dermot Brady, Padraig McCormack, Barry Gilleran; Donal McElligott, Michael Quinn, Dessie Reynolds; John Keegan, David McGivney; Diarmuid Masterson, James McGivney (St. Columba’s), Daniel Mimnagh; Robbie Smyth, Liam Connerton, Barry McKeon.Subs: Andrew Farrell for B Gilleran, Larry Moran for J McGivney (65 mins), Connor Berry for D McGivney, Paul McGee for D Reynolds (70 mins), Rian Brady for D Brady (70+2 mins).
LOUTH: Craig Lynch; Padraig Rath, John Bingham, Kurt Murphy; James Stewart, Darren McMahon, Anthony Williams; James Califf, Andy McDonnell; Ruairi Moore, Padraic Smith, Bevan Duffy; Patrick Reilly, Eoin O’Connor, Jim McEneaney.Subs: Declan Byrne for J Stewart (28 mins), Adrian Reid for K Murphy (37 mins), Tommy Durnin for P Smith and Ryan Burns for R Moore (40 mins), Gerard McSorley for J McEneaney (46 mins), Derek Crilly for J Califf (55 mins).
REFEREE: Noel Mooney (Cavan)