O’Byrne Cup: Robbie Smyth guides Longford past Meath
Smyth scores 0-8 in Ashbourne while Kildare run out comfortable winners over Carlow
Robbie Smyth scored 0-8 to help Longford to an O’Byrne Cup victory over Meath. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Robbie Smyth maintained his strong pre-season form for Longford with another match-winning display in the O’Byrne Cup.
The experienced attacker struck eight of his team’s nine points as the visitors overcame holders Meath 0-9 to 1-5 in Ashbourne.
Smyth’s first score came following an advanced mark in the danger area, though the experimental rules had a limited impact overall on a game played in atrocious conditions.
Meath, who named different teams for this tie and Sunday’s Seán Cox fundraiser against Dublin, were pulled up on a number of occasions for breaching the three consecutive hand-passes rule.
Longford scored the first five points, though 1-2 from Meath including a 27th-minute Ben Brennan goal left the hosts just 0-6 to 1-2 down at half-time.
Points from Seán Tobin and Graham Reilly handed Meath a brief lead but three more Smyth points without reply ultimately won it for Longford.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Hyland, one of the smallest players on the pitch, took full advantage of the new advanced mark rule as Kildare opened their O’Byrne Cup campaign with a big win.
Cian O’Neill’s side scored a comfortable 0-16 to 1-6 win over Carlow in Newbridge, earning slight revenge for last summer’s surprise Leinster championship loss.
Hyland, who powered Kildare to All-Ireland U-20 success and earned the U-20 Player of the Year award, kicked three points and all of them followed advanced marks.
It added a new dimension to the discussion around the experimental rule which many thought would chiefly benefit tall, powerful forwards.
Kildare opted to kick-pass regularly despite the poor conditions and only fell foul of the three hand-pass rule once in the entire game, in second-half stoppage time.
Ben McCormack, featuring for the first time since quitting the Kildare panel last spring due to work commitments, was black carded in the 10th minute.
It meant he was sidelined until the 20th minute under the new sin-bin directive before being allowed to return to play.
All of Hyland’s points came in the first half as Kildare raced eight points clear.
The returning Eoghan O’Flaherty was also on the mark as Kildare surged 0-11 to 0-2 clear at half-time.
Carlow wing back Darren Lunney pulled back a 40th-minute goal but four Kildare points without reply midway through the half sealed a routine win.
Kildare will return to action on Thursday evening against Offaly in Kilcormac in their rescheduled Round 1 game.
Carlow will also play Offaly next, on January 5th, but can’t now qualify for the semi-finals after back to back defeats.
The O’Byrne Cup games involving Wicklow/Louth, Westmeath/Offaly and Wexford/Laois were postponed due to Storm Deirdre.