Longford 1-13 Dublin 3-6
The Dessie Farrell era is officially underway though victory eluded the new Dublin manager in what proved a dramatic and unconventional O'Byrne Cup semi-final tie.
Leading by two points with 67 minutes played, Farrell’s experimental crew of rookies and former underage talents led by two points and eyed what would have been a creditable win in the circumstances.
None of the 2019 squad were involved - though Stephen Cluxton did attend the game - while the Sigerson Cup robbed Farrell of various other options, leading to him choosing arguably a third choice team.
In the end, three Longford points in a row including the winner from a Darren Gallagher free in the 74th minute secured the home team's passage through to a final next weekend against Offaly.
Not that Farrell, who operated a rolling substitutes system and made 23 changes throughout, was overly concerned about the defeat, agreeing that it will be good to get down to business with his full squad in training now.
"There's definitely a bit of that because we have to get back to work with the main group quickly," said Farrell, who confirmed Mick Galvin as one of his selectors. "That will be our focus now and working towards the (National League) opener against Kerry in two weeks' time."
Farrell clearly guaranteed all of his travelling squad a chunk of game time because he introduced 10 substitutes in the first-half alone, making 13 more in the second-half.
Even with unlimited substitutions permitted in the pre-season tournament, it was a curious move with Killian O’Gara netting for Dublin in the 19th minute, only to be called ashore seconds later, the same fate that awaited Niall O’Callaghan, younger brother of Con, after he scored the second of his two-goal blast in the 50th minute.
With only a couple of training sessions beforehand, Dublin naturally took time to settle and trailed 0-4 to 0-1 with corner-back CJ Smith the unlikely first point scorer of the Farrell era in the 12th minute.
O'Gara's goal and subsequent points from subs Dermot McLouglin and Gerry Seaver ensured parity at half-time, 1-3 to 0-6.
An entertaining and at times ratty game swung back and forth during the second-half though O’Callaghan’s two goals left Dublin in pole position until that late Longford trio of scores.
Longford: P Collum; P Fox, A Farrell, B O'Farrell; I O'Sullivan, M Quinn, CP Smyth; D Gallagher (0-5, 0-4f), K Diffley (1-0); G Rogers, D Mimnagh, D Reynolds; R Brady (0-5, 0-1f), J Hagan, O Kenny (0-2). Subs: D Doherty (0-1) for Rogers (57m), P Lynn for Kenny (60), L Connerton for Reynolds (68).
Dublin: M Shiel; CJ Smith (0-1), E O'Brien, D Byrne; N McGovern, G Hannigan, C Murphy; E O Conghaile, T Lahiff; N Walsh, D O'Brien, G O'Reilly (0-1); K O'Gara (1-0), N O'Callaghan (2-0), C Sallier. Subs: R McGowan for Murphy (18m), S Fulham for O'Gara (19), R Deegan for O'Reilly (21), S Cleary for Smith (25), G Seaver (0-2) for Walsh (25), D Quinn for Sallier (26), D McLoughlin (0-1) for O'Brien (27), N Doran (0-1) for Lahiff (29), E O'Dea for McGovern (31), C Howley for O Conghaile (34), O Conghaile for Lahiff (41), O'Reilly for Deegan (45), Walsh for Seaver (45), Murphy for Cleary (49), Sallier for O'Callaghan (50), O'Brien for Quinn (55), O'Gara for Lahiff (55), McGovern for McLoughlin (55), Lahiff for Doran (60), Seaver for Fulham (60), Smith for Hannigan (63), O'Callaghan for Sallier (68), O'Dea for Murphy (73).
Ref: A Coyne (Westmeath).