LOUTH sparkled on the big day at Croke Park to seal their place at the top of the Lory Meagher roll of honour with their third success in the grade with 13 points to spare over Longford.
Paul Mathews was key to Louth’s record triumph with two timely goals, one in each half, as well as playing Seaghan Conneely in for the opening goal. His presence alone was enough to send Longford in a spin when the sliotar came anywhere in his vicinity.
The midlanders won the corresponding fixture at the group stage, and it looked like a repeat result would follow, when they opened up a 1-2 to no score lead. Veteran Joe O’Brien with a fifth minute goal for the finals first score.
Louth eventually settled and exploded into life with an unanswered sequence themselves. Impressive Louth midfielder Liam Molloy began the 2-5 scoring run with a neat point before Conneely and Mathews combined to find the net.
Paddy Lynam would provide Longford with some hope with four points in the run into half time but with Louth marksman Darren Geoghegan beginning to find the range from frees, the half time margin 2-9 to 1-7 already looked insurmountable for Adrian Moran’s side.
Geoghegan would indeed score Louth’s first four points of the second half. Although goalscorer O'Brien and Lynam would match them on every occasion Longford were just staying afloat.
Substitute Niall Keenan had a huge impact off the bench for Louth, the Roscommon native landed two points in the finish but his long ball in for Mathews second goal proved significant.
Mathews had a lot to do, but he squeezed in between Longford goalie Conor Gallagher and full back Enda Naughton to fire home to an empty net. That goal made it 3-14 to 1-11 but the injection of confidence it gave Louth was match winning.
Reuben Murray and full back Naughton did find the net for the midlanders but such was the Louth's dominance they had little effect on the outcome with captain Feidhelm Joyce landing five in the finish before he walked up the lauded Hoganstand steps.
D Geoghegan (0-9, 6f), P Matthews (2-1), F Joyce (0-5), L Molloy (0-4), S Conneely (1-1), N Keenan (0-2), M Gahan (0-1), P Fallon (0-1), S Kerrisk (0-1), S Crosbie (0-1).
: P Lynam (0-6, 3f,1’65), Joe O’Brien (1-2,1f); Rueben Murray (1-2), Enda Naughton (1-0), E Corrigan (0-2), Cian Kavanagh (0-1), John Mulhern (0-1), Cathal Mullane (0-1).
: C Gallagher; K Murray, E Naughton, N Moran; A Quinn, D Buckley, A Sheridan; E Corrigan, P Lynam; R Murray, C Kavanagh, E Tully; J Mulhern, C Mullane, J O’Brien.
M Mulcahy for Mulhern (27), P McNally for Sheridan (55), D Regan for Tully (56), P Barden for Kavanagh (73), C Farrell for R Murray (75).
: R Morrissey; M Fee, D Ryan, A Plunkett; J McDonnell, C Quigley, D Morgan, S Crosbie, L Molloy; F Joyce, S Conneely, P Fortune; D Geoghegan, P Matthews, S Kerrisk.
: N Keenan for Fortune (40), M Gahan for Kerrisk (58), P Fallon for Crosbie (65), A Smyth for Plunkett (68), A Mackin for Conneely (70).
: C Flynn (Westmeath)