Longford's Joe O'Brien and Donal Ryan of Louth. (Pic: Declan Gilmore - Longford Leader)
Allianz National Hurling League
Longford 5-7 Louth 4-17
Niall Arthur was again to the fore as Louth hurlers stretched their unbeaten league run to three matches at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday afternoon, relegating Longford to Division 3B in the process.
The Wee County now sit third in the division, level on points with second place Roscommon with their final round meeting with Monaghan potentially holding the key to promotion.
Building on his impressive performances against Tyrone and Warwickshire, Arthur was outstanding against the Midlanders, scoring 4-12 of his side’s 4-17. Longford
Credit to Longford they battled in this game, but, with Arthur in superb form and with the loss of Mullane, it was always going to be hard for them.
Just 15 seconds had gone on the clock when Arthur got his side’s first goal. Mark Molloy followed up with a point in the second minute before Cathal Mullane got Longford’s first score when he fired over a free in the fourth.
Louth stretched their lead to
In the 27th minute, Longford finally raised the green flag through Paddy Walsh. Arthur hit over a free before Walsh got his and his side’s second goal in the 29th minute. Minutes later Mullane was shown a straight red and Longford were down to 14.
A ball in from Joe O’Brien was excellently fired to the net by substitute Reuben Murray to put Longford ahead for the first time. Two-points in stoppage time saw Louth lead by a point at half-time; 1-8 to 3-1.
O’Brien drew Longford level just after the break and then a fantastic point from Daniel Connell put them ahead again, but that was to be the last time Longford would lead. In the 40th minute, Arthur got his second goal and followed up with a free.
Both sides hit over points before Gerard Smyth brought a fine save out of Conor Gallagher with Arthur hitting over the ‘65. Another penalty from O’Brien made it a three-point game in the 58th minute.
Two O’Brien frees cut the deficit to one in the 63rd minute, but
Meanwhile, the Reds visit Castleblayney for a meeting with the Farneymen on Sunday in the knowledge that victory could secure them an unlikely berth in the league final.
Louth: Stephen Hackett; Mark Wallace, Mike Lyons, Conor Matthews; Stephen Kettle, Ronan Byrne, Andrew McCrave; Donal Ryan, Mark Molloy (0-2); Shane Callan, Gerry Arthur (0-1), Gerard Smyth; Seaghan Conneely (0-1), Niall Arthur (4-12, 0-6 frees and one '65), Paddy Lynch (0-1)
Subs: Diarmuid Murphy for Callan (57), John Crosbie for Smyth (61), Michael Ryan for Ryan (70)
Longford: Conor Gallagher; Karl Murray, Seamus Hannon, Gerard Moore; Dáire Duggan, Paddy Walsh, Aidan Sheridan; Seán Stakelum, Paul Barden; Paddy Corcoran, Daniel Connell (0-1), Jody Leonard; Joe O’Brien (2-4, 2-0 pen and 0-2
Subs: Reuben Murray (1-0) for Stakelum (20), PJ Masterson for Corcoran (22), Paul Leonard for Barden (52), Ray O’Brien for Walsh (69), Cian McLoughlin for Moore (70)
Referee: Chris Mooney (Dublin)