Longford 3-07 Dublin 2-15: Holders Dublin fired off half a dozen late points without reply in Navan to finally shrug off brave Longford and secure their place in the Eirgrid Leinster U-21 football final.
But victory was far from secure for long spells and underdogs Longford took the lead on three occasions throughout a tense tussle with timely goals. In fact, Frank McNamee’s side were one point up with 11 minutes to go before being suckered by that late scoring siege from Dublin.
It was an impressive finale from Dessie Farrell’s Dublin who came good when they needed to with Niall Scully leading the fight. He scored three of those six points while Eric Lowndes delivered two to secure an April 2 final with Kildare.
Aside from Scully, Killian O’Gara impressed early on with 1-2 while Conor McHugh shot five points including four from play.
Longford started with a bang and netted inside two minutes. Corner-forward Larry Moran took off on a solo run down the right and struck a great shot across goalkeeper Lorcan Molloy to the far corner.
When Patrick Kiernan pointed in the sixth minute they were in dreamland, leading 1-1 to 0-0.
The jubilation didn’t last long as O’Gara wiped it out by the 10th minute with 1-1 for Dublin. The younger brother of Dubs senior star Eoghan netted from close range after Colm Basquel’s ball across goals.
Longfordrallied again. A poor clearance from Dubs keeper Molloy was intercepted and passed on to Liam Connerton who rifled a great finish to the top right corner.
Dublinnever looked shaken and after landing four point attempts short finally found their range, levelling the game up again by the 20th minute. And they finally took the lead in the 22nd minute when Basquel outfielded his man and shot to the net.
It put Dublin two clear but they were unable to kick on before half-time and took a slender 2-5 to 2-4 advantage into the interval.
A third Longford goal two minutes into the second-half put them ahead again, Connerton spinning his man and supplying another excellent finish. True to the pattern of the game, Dublin responded with four points in a row to move back into the lead, McHugh again excellent with back to back scores.
Dublin clearly saved a strong kick for the last lap and outscored Longford by six points to no score in the run in.
Scorers for Dublin: K O’Gara (1-2), C McHugh (0-5, one free), C Basquel (1-1), N Scully (0-3), E Lowndes (0-2), A Foley and A Byrne (0-1) each.
Scorers for Longford: L Connerton (2-1), L Moran (1-1, one free), P Kiernan (0-2), A Dalton, D McGivney (one free) and D Reynolds (0-1 each)
DUBLIN: L Molloy; S Clayton, D Byrne, R McGowan; E Lowndes, C Mullally, E Murchan; S Cunningham, S Carthy; G Burke, A Foley, N Scully; K O’Gara, C McHugh, C Basquel.
Subs.: R Gaughan for Burke (43), A Byrne for O’Gara (47), M Deegan for Basquel (60).
LONGFORD: C Farrell; R Sweeney, A Farrell, C Shields; L Sullivan, C Farrelly, D Reynolds; F Sheridan, A Dalton; R McNerney, S Kenny, R Connor; L Moran, P Kiernan, L Connerton.
Subs.: D McGivney for Sheridan (26), P Farrell for Farrell (52), N Rabbitte for Kiernan (56).
Referee: J Hickey (Carlow).
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