Al Qualifier – Leitrim v Longford

Leitrim 0-10 Longford 0-13

Leitrims brave bid to win their first ever SFC qualifier faded at Pairc Sean MacDiarmada tonight.  Spurred on by man-of-the-match Padraig Berry, Longford booked a prized place in the second round draw.

Both sides enjoyed spells of dominance in the first half. Michael Foley and Gary Reynolds starred as Leitrim pegged it back to 0-07 apiece at half-time.

But Longford, despite losing Kevin Smith to a red card, edged it in the second half with Berry, Paul and David Barden and Brian KavanÓgh leading them home.

In dry and near-perfect conditions, the games throw-in was delayed by 10 minutes due to crowd conjestion and when this novel clash got started, Leitrim grasped early control of the scoreboard.

Ger DennÓgan kicked Longfords first point, but the hosts cantered ahead thanks to scores from Michael Foley, Gary Reynolds and Philip McGuinness.

Reynolds kicked clear of the crossbar after Longford goalkeeper Damien Sheridan had managed to keep out a goal-bound shot from Philip McGovern.

Longford ended their barren spell in front of goal with points from Damien Masterson and Francis McGee and a subsequent white flag from full-forward Cian MimnÓgh sent them back in front at 0-06 to 0-05.

The ever-impressive Berry sandwiched a point in before the half-time whistle, replying to another Foley score and an entertaining half was brought to a close by a well-taken point by Carrigallen ace Reynolds.

The second half was just as competitive as the first but Longford, searching for their first Championship win under Manager Glenn Ryan, gradually stretched ahead.

DennÓgan and Foley both had wides before McGee also forced a free wide of the target, following a yellow card for Leitrim corner back Dermot Reynolds.

Reynolds full-back colleague Pat Gilmartin had an excellent game and was a rock for Leitrim on occasions, but he could do little as points from DennÓgan, McGee and Berry saw Longford push ahead.

Berrys score, coming off a brilliant solo run, was quickly followed by Paul Bardens first point of the evening and a superb point from Brian KavanÓgh, wide out on the left. Suddenly there were five points between the sides (0-12 to 0-07).

Foley reduced the arrears, dusting himself off to pop over a free, and the Leitrim management introduced Darren Duignan and James Holohan for the closing stages.

Ray Cox was also brought on and two successful frees from McGuinness, in between Kevin Smiths sending-off for a high challenge on Cox, set up an edge-of-the-seat finale.

Yet Leitrim could not muster another score. The scenario of being two points down with three minutes remaining will be played over in their players minds for the rest of the summer.

David Barden had the final say, Scóring a relieving point for Longford which proved to be the match-winner.



05-Jul-09 by