Wicklow 1-15 Longford 0-16
It was perhaps no surprise that two sides who had not won a match all year should do their best to try and lose this Leinster SFC encounter.
In the end, Wicklow did enough to hold on in Aughrim to claim a badly needed win after both of these relegated sides were outscored when they had the strong wind behind them.
Longford trailed by 0-9 to 0-5 after having the wind but while they won the second period by 0-11 to 1-6, they never managed to get ahead except from an early free by Sean McCormack.
The key score came less than two minutes after the restart when Seanie Furlong finished from close range for the only goal of the game and after that, Wicklow defended well as Longford threw caution to the wind.
Manager Harry Murphy said they will get a great confidence boost from their first win of 2013 and he reckons a repeat of their opening half performance will see them have a good crack at Meath. Not that he expects Meath to be worrying too much about them.
“Meath are Meath and they won’t be worrying about Wicklow but we will be waiting for them. That’s all we can do and if the lads put in a performance like that and believe in ourselves, we will give them a good run, no doubt about it.
“The platform was the performance in the first-half. That was the best football we have played all year. We played some good football and took some really good scores. It will bring the lads on, especially their confidence,” said Murphy.
Confidence is not something which has been in Longford dressing-rooms that much in recent times and Glenn Ryan doesn’t think they will get much heart from the way they played after the restart.
“None,” was his response to the query.
“It will be very difficult to pick it up after this, there is no point in dressing it up as anything different.
“It is a huge disappointment, especially the way we played in the opening half. We tried to salvage something in the second-half but, by and large, when you look at it we didn’t deserve it,” said the former Kildare star.
The damage was done in the opening half. They held on to possession too long and with Wicklow, in contrast, moving the ball well, they raced into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead after just nine minutes.
Donal McElligott gave Longford hope directly after the restart with a point but Wicklow came downfield and a good move involving Darren Hayden and Darragh O’Sullivan was finished from close range by Furlong.
Longford, in fairness, never gave up and got the margin back to a goal with three points in succession from Sean McCormack but Francis McGee had a couple of goal chances blocked.
Furlong almost grabbed a second goal at the other end but his shot went over rather than under the crossbar to leave a goal between them with 11 minutes left.
Longford never looked like getting the goal they required and while Furlong and Stafford put four between them in the closing stages, Longford kept their hopes alive with another McGee point.
But Wicklow crowded out their defence and never looked like coughing up the goal which would force a replay with McCormack surprisingly going for a point deep into injury-time when they needed to engineer a goal.
They will anxiously await the qualifier draw but they will need some luck there if they are to avoid 2013 as being the year they lost every match.
Scorers for Wicklow: S Furlong 1-5 (0-1f), D Healy 0-2, J Stafford 0-2, J Kelly 0-2, J McGrath 0-2, A McLoughlin 0-1, P McWalter 0-1.
Scorers for Longford: S McCormack 0-6 (3fs), F McGee, P Barden, D McElligott 0-2 each, R Smyth, J Keegan, B McElvaney, JJ Matthews 0-1 each.
WICKLOW: J Flynn; C Hyland, D Power, A Byrne; D Hayden, P McWalter, D Healy; A McLoughlin, J Stafford; J Kelly, R Finn, D O’Sullivan; B McCrea, S Furlong, J McGrath.
Subs: A O’Malley for McCrea (53), P Dalton for Kelly (53).
LONGFORD: D Sheridan; D Brady, B Gilleran, D Reilly; C Smyth, M Quinn, S Mulligan; J Keegan, M Brady; B McElvaney, P Barden, P McCormack; R Smyth, F McGee, S McCormack.
Subs: D McElligott for Quinn (19), A Rowan for Brady (28), F Battrim for C Smyth (42), JJ Matthews for R Smyth (54), N Mulligan for McElliogott (67).
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved