Longford reach first semi-final in 30 years with Meath win
‘Our message was simple you can be like every Longford player or you be different’
Michael Quinn celebrates Longford’s win over Meath. Photograph: Inpho
Longford 0-16 Meath 0-14
Before Longford’s Leinster quarter-final tie with Meath at Pearse Park the message was simple from manager Denis Connerton: “It’s a big opportunity for you to make your own piece of history.”
They did just that in defeating Meath for the first time since 1982 and reaching a Leinster semi-final for the first time in 30 years.
Connerton said: “We have disappointed ourselves in previous years. History can become a burden or become an opportunity. As I said to the lads this isn’t a burden it’s an opportunity. It’s a big opportunity for you to make your own piece of history. Our message was simple you can be like every Longford player or you can be different. Today they are different.”
The Royals were reduced to 14 men in the 56th minute when Shane McEntee was sent off for an off the ball incident. Two minutes later Meath were behind by five points but credit to Andy McEntee’s men they fought back.
It was a three point game in the 63rd minute when Sean Curran pointed and then the turning point of the game came in the 66th minute; Longford gave away possession and Meath broke, Joey Wallace to his brother Eamon but Longford keeper Paddy Collum pulled off a superb point blank save to tip the ball over the bar.
Longford got an insurance point in stoppage time as substitute Sean McCormack found range with a fine strike. Meath tried but Longford’s defence held firm with Diarmuid Masterson in particular fantastic for Connerton’s team.
It was a tight opening half with very little between the sides; they were level on seven occasions as neither side could get a stranglehold on the game.
James McGivney had a goal chance in the 10th minute but he blasted the ball over the bar for a point. Reilly then got his second point one minute later. Ronan McEntire had a goal chance for Longford in the 12th minute but Meath ‘keeper Andrew Colgan did well to put him off.
Longford netminder Collum kicked a fine ‘45 but that was cancelled out by a Ben Brennan point. Donal Lenihan’s pointed free point Meath ahead for the first time in the 18th minute and one minute later a goal chance went abegging for Donal Keogan in the 19th minute.
Darren Gallagher kicked over an excellent point to level the game for Longford in the 22nd minute but one minute later Cillian O’Sullivan wasted a goal chance when he blasted his shot wide.
Gallagher scored another fine point in the 34th minute but a good move ended with a fine Bryan Menton point to leave the sides level at the break; 0-7 to 0-7.
Longford upped their game in the second half with Gallagher and James McGivney leading the charges as they claimed a famous championship win and Connerton’s first in the championship as Longford manager.
He added afterwards: “We are delighted. I’m personally delighted myself for that bunch of players. We were blessed with the 2010 minor team to work with; we have got so much out of that team. It’s so hard to do. We were leading by five points, then it was down to one point. You begin to wonder are we ever going to clinch these deals but we did today. It was great to have a bench to go to.”
LONGFORD: P Collum (0-1, ‘45); P Fox, P McCormack, D Masterson; M Quinn, D McElligott, D Mimnagh (0-1); D Gallagher (0-3), C Berry (0-1); D Reynolds (0-1), R McEntire, D McGivney (0-1, 1 free); R Smyth (0-1), J McGivney (0-4), R Brady (0-2).
Subs: S McCormack (0-1) for Smyth inj (67), P Foy for D McGivney and L Connerton for Brady (70+3), B Gilleran for Mimnagh (70+5)
MEATH: A Colgan; S Lavin, C McGill, S Curran (0-1); J McEntee, D Keoghan (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 (0-2, 2 frees).
Subs: D O’Neill for Kennelly (49) J Wallace (0-1) for Brennan (54), E Wallace (0-1) for O’Sullivan (56), T O’Reilly for McMahon (69).
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)