The dubious value of pre-season form was once again highlighted in the first game of the 2023 Allianz Football League in Ederney in North Fermanagh, where the home side easily overwhelmed the O’Byrne Cup champions to get their season off to a strong start.
At half-time, supporters on both sides at St. Joseph’s GAA club remarked on the quality of the fixture that was unfolding, as Fermanagh led by 0-11 to 0-6 at the end of a thoroughly enjoyable, open game of attacking football. Those conversations were a distant memory by the end as Longford could only muster up ten minutes of resistance, and Fermanagh would have pulled clear to win by much more, was it not for some appalling shooting.
Against Louth in last week’s O’Byrne Cup final, Longford won a lot of clean catches at midfield through Fergal Sheridan and Darren Gallagher, and close to goal through David McGivney. This afternoon players like Ryan Jones and Darragh McGurn controlled the middle for Fermanagh, while Che Cullen produced a man of the match performance in the full-back line to shut down McGivney.
Iarla O’Sullivan did strike two excellent points from wing back in the first half for Longford, but outside of that, Fermanagh were in complete control and were full value for their five-point interval lead.
Seán Quigley struck five frees in that opening half while there were some exceptional points from Jonathan Cassidy, Ryan Lyons, as well as Jones and McGurn, with Paddy Collum producing an exceptional reflex save to deny Seán Cassidy.
Longford played their best football of the game in the opening ten minutes of the second half and they cut the lead to three points through a McGivney free and Keelin McGann, but they were overwhelmed for the remainder of the game and despite Fermanagh racking up eight second-half wides, including several scorable frees, there was never any doubt about the result.
S Quigley 0-7f, D McGurn 0-2, S Cassidy 0-1, R Jones 0-1. R Lyons 0-1. J Cassidy 0-1, U Kelm 0-1, C McManus 0-1.
D McGivney 0-4f, I O’Sullivan 0-2, D Farrell 0-1f, K McGann 0-1
S McNally; J Cassidy, C McManus, C Cullen; L Flanagan, J Largo Ellis, R McCaffrey; R Jones, B Horan; U Kelm, D McGurn, S McGullion; R Lyons, S Quigley, S Cassidy.
T McCaffrey for Cassidy (50), C Corrigan for Lyons (50), G Cavanagh for Cullen (60), A Breen for McGurn (67), F O’Brien for Largo Ellis (70+1).
P Collum; P Fox, A Farrell, B O’Farrell; R Moffett; G Rogers, I O’Sullivan; D Gallagher, F Sheridan; K McGann, D Farrell, M Quinn; D McGivney, D Mimnagh, D Reynolds.
A Farrell for D Farrell (32), J McGivney for Quinn (46), P Lynn for Rogers (46), PJ Masterson for Moffatt (55), R Smyth for McGann (63)
J Gilmartin (Sligo)