A spirited second half fight-back from Leitrim Under 21s fell just short last Saturday in Michael Fay Park, Longford when the home side proved victorious in the first round of the Hastings Cup.
HASTINGS CUP FIRST ROUND
The decisive only goal was scored by Kevin Diffley deep into first half stoppage time as Longford led by 1-4 to 0-3 at the break and they gradually extended the advantage to a comfortable six points before Leitrim finally managed to make a decent impact and might well have avoided defeat but for a brilliant save by the home keeper CiaranÓgarvey.
Trailing by 1-10 to 0-7, Leitrim narrowed the gap with three points on the trot through Fergal Clancy (two frees) and Adrian Croal and then a well-worked move involving midfielder Wayne McKeon and full-forward Paul Brennan put Ray Mulvey clean through for a clear-cut chance of an equalising goal in the 54th minute.
However, Garvey came to Longfords rescue with a point-blank stop and while the Leitrim revival continued with a well struck point from Adrian Croal the pressure was lifted on the home side when substitute Shane Kiernan fired over a cracking score in the 58th minute.
Soon after Ger DennÓgan converted a close range free to make victory safe for Longford and it was Leitrim who brought the Scóring to a close when Fergal Clancy converted his sixth point (all from frees) in the second minute of stoppage time.
Longford were clearly the better team in the first half but failed to convert their superiority into scores as a total of nine wides were kicked as compared to four for the opposition.
Having said that, Leitrim had a great chance of a goal in the opening minute when Fergal Earley had a close range shot saved by the alert Longford keeper CiaranÓgarvey and the opening score of the game did not materialise until the 12th minute when Fergal Clancy slotted over a free for the visitors.
Longford eventually opened their account in the 15th minute whenÓger DennÓgan converted a free and a further three points followed through Emmet Masterson and JJ Matthews (2) while Leitrim replied with a score apiece from Clancy (free) and wing back Thomas Davitt – the latter landing a great kick in the 30th minute.
With just the minimum of margins separating the sides, Longford received a significant boost when William Crawford set up Kevin Diffley for a fine goal in the third minute of additional time but Leitrim closed the gap when Fergal Clancy converted a free in the early stages of the second half.
However, Longford then enjoyed their best spell of the game with Thomas Lowry firing over two points and three more scores (one free) were registered by Philip Dobson before Emmet Masterson shot over the bar in the 44th minute.Leitrim managed two points through Ray Mulvey (when a goal was on) and Adrian Croal in the third quarter of the contest but showed a lot of character in refusing to give up the fight and Longford just done enough to stay in front.
CiaranÓgarvey; Aaron Quinn, Fergal Battrim, Thomas Gallagher, Michael Kenny, Martin Brady, John Sheridan; Ger DennÓgan (0-2), David Faughnan; JJ Matthews (0-2), Kevin Diffley (1-0), Thomas Lowry (0-2); William Crawford, Donal McElligott, Philip Dobson (0-3). Subs: Emmet Masterson (0-2) for McElligott (7 mins); Shane Kiernan (0-1) for Diffley (40 mins); Colm P Smith for Kenny (50 mins); Gerard Farrell for Faughnan (60 mins).
Philip Farrelly; Mark Mitchell, Adrian Fowley, Conor McCauley; Thomas Davitt (0-1), Conor McLoughlin, Aidan Dolan; Wayne McKeon, Conor Sheridan; Nicholas McWeeney, Fergal Clancy (0-6), Ray Mulvey (0-2); Adrian Croal (0-3), Paul Brennan, Fergal Earley. Subs:ColinÓgilligan, Kevin Conlan, Liam Burke, Paul Og Ferguson and Enda McHugh for P Farrelly, N McWeeney, F Earley, A Dolan and A Fowley (HT); Christopher Higgins for L Burke (44 mins); A Dolan for T Davitt (injured, 52 mins).
Ref: Ollie Kelly (Roscommon).
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08-Jan-09 by LeitrimObserver.ie