Louth's Jamie McDonnell. (Pic: Syl Healy)
LOUTH 2-23 LONGFORD 0-13
After suffering three recent heavy defeats in the Ulster Conor McGurk Cup, the Louth hurlers finally produced a performance that will have pleased manager Paul McCormack and his selectors.
24 hours earlier a large crowd turned up at the Darver Centre of Excellence to see Henry Shefflin’s Galway team accounting for Antrim in the Walsh Cup, however on Sunday afternoon a small crowd witnessed this deserving Louth victory over Longford in the Kehoe Shield competition.
The Wee County had ten different scorers on the day but one man that stood out was Knockbridge's Conor Deane who tormented the Longford defence throughout, and he would finish the afternoon as the game’s top scorer with six points, all got impressively from open play.
Of course, it was Deane who opened the scoring after just 20 seconds with a good point set up by a fine pass from midfielder Feidhelm Joyce.
Three further points from play from the sticks of Peter Fortune, Seanie Crosbie and Wexford native Mark Gahan had the home side in front by four on eight minutes. Gahan added another from a free before centre half forward Paul Matthews fired home the game’s opening goal on 12 minutes.
Louth's lead was soon 1-6 to 0-0 with another Gahan free before the Midlanders finally opened their account on 15 minutes with a pointed free from Cian Kavanagh. Another brace of points from Deane and Gahan (free) had the home side leading by 1-8 to 0-1 at the first water break.
McCormack must have been delighted by the start from his troops and they maintained their superiority on the resumption, but wasteful shooting saw them account for five wides in a row.
A good brace of points from Seanie Crosbie extended their lead only for Longford to reply with a couple of welcome points from Emmet Corrigan and Reuben Murray.
The scores kept coming and contributions from Jamie McDonnell, Seaghan Conneely and Paul Matthews had Louth leading by 1-14 to 0-5 at half time.
As to be expected with such a commanding lead and with a big National League campaign on the horizon, the home side made ten changes in the second half as the Armagh native gave other players a chance to impress and earn their place in the starting 15.
And it was one of these changes, Padraig Fallon who grabbed the winner’s second goal firing past keeper Daniel Gallagher from a tight angle early on in the second half as Louth, having lost heavily to Longford in last year’s Lory Meagher Cup took no prisoners in this revenge mission.
Longford responded with a point from a 65-metre free by Kavanagh and this was shortly added to with a point from midfielder Paddy Lynam.
That man Conor Deane then grabbed four unanswered points to leave his side in front by 2-18 to 0-7 at the second water break. Substitute Darren Geoghegan also made the most of his opportunity scoring four points, two from play to extend the lead further.
Eddie Condon, another of the substitutes introduced in this second half marked his competitive debut for Louth with their final point of this victory. In the time added on by the referee Longford accounted for the last four points of this encounter including two from Emmet Corrigan.
Next up for Louth is another chance to bag more silverware when they travel to Aughrim to face Wicklow this Sunday (throw in 2PM) in what is now a winner takes all encounter in Leinster GAA’s third tier hurling competition.
LOUTH: Ruairi Morrissey; Adam Plunkett, Danny Morgan, Sean Magill; Sean Hodgins, Conor Quigley, Jamie McDonnell (0-1); Peter Fortune (0-1), Feidhelm Joyce; Seanie Crosbie (0-3), Paul Matthews (1-1), Seaghan Conneely (0-1); Conor Deane (0-6), Gareth Hall, Mark Gahan (0-5, 0-4 frees). Subs: Darren Geoghegan (0-4, 0-2 frees) for S Conneely, Padraig Fallon (1-0) for G Hall, Stephen Hoey for A Plunkett, Niall Keenan for P Fortune, Andrew Mackin for M Gahan (all HT), Ronan Mulholland for Paul Matthews (41), Darren O Hanrahan for J McDonnell, Donal Ryan for F Joyce, Eddie Condon (0-1) for S Crosbie, Josh Murtagh for R Morrissey (all 2nd half water break).
LONGFORD: Daniel Gallagher; Kevin Cox, David Buckley, Gerard Moore; Aidan Sheridan, Johnny Casey, Pearse McNally; Paddy Lynam (0-2), Evan Tully; Ciaran Farrell, Cian Kavanagh (0-6), John Mulhern; Matthew Hawes, Reuben Murray (0-1), Emmet Corrigan (0-3). Subs: Adam Quinn (0-1) for G Moore (1st half water break), Liam Browne for R Murray (51), Michael Mulcahy for J Mulhern (51), Iain Campbell for E Tully (68m).
REFEREE: Sean Dunican (Dublin).
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