Leinster SFC: Longford make their point to see off Royals

May 27, 2018

Longford's Robbie Smyth with Conor McGill of Meath.
©INPHO/Donall Farmer.

Longford were deserving winners over 14-man Meath at Pearse Park this afternoon, 0-16 to 0-14, with 5,591 in attendance.

The winners have earned a semi-final date with holders Dublin next month - their first appearance in the last four in three decades - while the Royal County will be in tomorrow morning's first-round Qualifier draw.

Full forward James McGivney and midfielder Darren Gallagher produced exceptional displays for the home team but, in fairness, Denis Connerton's charges were outstanding all over the field.

The sides were level on no fewer than seven occasions during the course of an entertaining first half that finished level, 0-7 apiece, with both teams missing a series of open goals.

James McGivney opened the scoring with an excellent point but debutant Paddy Kennelly was happy enough to fist his point for the Royals in response only for Rian Brady to instantly restore the midlanders' advantage - 0-2 to 0-1 after eight minutes.

Veteran Graham Reilly tied the scores up again but James McGivney then flashed a shot over the Meath crossbar when he probably should have bulged the net. Reilly's second point had the teams level for the third time. They were on terms again following an exchange between home goalkeeper Paddy Collum and Ben Brennan, with Longford squandering two great goalscoring opportunities.

A lovely Donal Lenihan free nudged the visitors ahead for the first time at the midway stage in the first half and Donal Keogan rolled a goal effort tamely wide and Gallagher punished that miss when he hammered over Longford's fifth point to tie the scores up again.

Cillian O'Sullivan missed a Meath goal change as both sides continued to fluff their lines. Brady's second of the day - a spectacular effort off his left boot - pushed the hosts back in front nine minutes from the break but the Royals replied with a second from Kennelly.

Cue Gallagher to boom over his second but visiting captain Bryan Menton was on hand to level them up again on 35 minutes.

Dessie Reynolds and Gallagher fired the first two points of the second half for the hosts and Andy McEntee's men replied through Reilly before James McGivney and David McGivney pointed to make it 0-11 to 0-8 with 45 minutes played.

Centre back Keogan and Mickey Burke replied for the visitors but wing back Daniel Mimnagh pointed in between as the midlanders remained two clear with 20 minutes to go, 0-12 to 0-10.

In a critical surge, the dangerous James McGivney slotted the 13th Longford point to leave three between them going into the fourth quarter and Robbie Smyth added to the winners' tally on 54 minutes.

After the visitors has wing back James McEntee red-carded, midfielder Conor Berry put five between them with 13 minutes left but - as Longford tired visibly - the Royals rallied with a brilliant run of four quickfire points from Lenihan, corner back Sean Curran, Eamon Wallace and substitute Joey Wallace to leave one in it with three minutes remaining. But it was too little, too late…

A McGivney goal attempt was cleared off the line by Conor McGill and substitute Sean McCormack doubled the home side's lead in the first of four minutes of injury time. Longford held on for a fantastic victory.

Longford - P Collum (0-1'45); P McCormack, M Quinn, P Fox; D McElligott, D Masterson, D Mimnagh (0-1); D Gallagher (0-3), C Berry (0-1); D Reynolds (0-1), R McEntire, D McGivney (0-1f); R Smyth (0-1), J McGivney (0-4), R Brady (0-2). Subs: S McCormack (0-1) for R Smyth, L Connerton for R Brady, P Foy for D McGivney, B Gilleran for D Mimnagh.

Meath - A Colgan; S Lavin, C McGill, S Curran (0-1); J McEntee, D Keogan (0-1), S McEntee; B Menton (0-1), P Kennelly (0-2); C O'Sullivan, B Brennan (0-1), M Burke (0-1); B McMahon, G Reilly (0-3), D Lenihan (0-2f). Subs: D O'Neill for P Kennelly, J Wallace (0-1) for B Brennan, E Wallace (0-1) for C O'Sullivan, T O'Reilly for B McMahon.

Referee - S Hurson.

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