A cohesive and powerful second half performance helped Longford secure a first Leinster senior football championship victory over Offaly since 1965 on Sunday last at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park.
Leinster Senior Football Championship Rd 1
This win was more emphatic than the scoreline suggests as had Paul Barden found the twine with a series of gilt-edge goal scoring opportunities, Longford would have been well and truly out of sight.
On three separate occasions during the opening thirty-five minutes, Offaly found themselves four points in front but they couldn’t hold the lead and a run of five unanswered points from the 47th to the 60th minute for Longford turned the game.
Ofaly led by 0-10 to 0-8 at the interval but the warning signs were ominous for them. Barden saw a 23rd minute strike initially saved and while he followed up and tucked home the rebound he was penalised for ‘kicking the ball’ out of the hands of Offaly ‘keeper Alan Mulhall. Barden also blazed a low strike wide when a goal looked the more likely outcome.
Offaly were 0-5 to 0-3 ahead and after 12 minutes and after a decent move Peter Cunningham was prevented from fisting a goal by a combination of the vigilant Dermot Brady and Barry O’Farrell on the goal line.
Niall McNamee was in outstanding form for Offaly finishing with seven points while Graham Guilfoyle, Peter Cunningham and Joe Maher all chipped in with two apiece.
Longford scored the first three points of the second-half but Niall McNamee’s 46th minute point restored parity for the fourth and final time, 0-11 apiece.
From the 47th to 60th minute however Longford took control and five unanswered points put daylight between the sides
Things got worse for Offaly when David Hanlon picked up a second yellow, followed by red after an off-the-ball incident.
To their credit Offaly never threw in the towel and points from Cunningham, McNamee and sub Ciaran Hurley hauled them back to within two points, 0-14 to 0-16 after 69 minutes.
However the goal they needed never materialised and two further Longford points gave the home side the relative comfort of a four point lead.
McNamee and Kavanagh traded points in the dying seconds of added time and this contest of the two relegated sides from Division 3 of the Allianz NFL drew to a conclusion.
LONGFORD: Damien Sheridan; Dermot Brady, Barry O’Farrell, Fergal Battrim; Colm P Smyth, Enda Williams, Shane Mulligan (0-1); John Keegan, Michael Quinn (0-1); Shane Doyle, Francis McGee (0-3), Paul Barden (0-2); Mark Hughes (0-2), Brian Kavanagh (0-3), Sean McCormack (0-7, 0-5 frees). Subs: Niall Mulligan for S Doyle (54 mins), Michael Brady for J Keegan (57 mins), Aidan Rowan for M Hughes (60 mins)
Offaly: Alan Mulhall; Daithí Brady, David Hanlon, Niall Darby; Brian Darby, Johnny Moloney, Michael Brazil; Ruairí Allen (0-1), Niall Smith; Eoin Carroll, Graham Guilfoyle (0-2), Anton Sullivan; Joe Maher (0-2), Niall McNamee (0-7, 0-3 frees), Peter Cunningham (0-2). Subs.: Niall Geraghty for R Allen (45 mins), Ciaran Hurley (0-1) for G Guilfoyle (58 mins), Paul McPadden for J Maher (63 mins).
Referee: Martin Higgins, Fermanagh.