LOUTH pipped Meath to a home semi-final showdown with Dublin as Aidan O'Rourke maintained his unbeaten start to life in the Wee County hot seat.
Following Thursday's dramatic draw between the northeast neighbours in Navan it was all about score difference as Louth hosted Longford and Meath entertained UCD – but in the end it was a comfortable afternoon's viewing for the home fans in Drogheda as their side cruised to an 11-point victory.
Still in with an outside chance of topping the group themselves, Longford offered scant resistance, and the writing was on the wall as early as the 12th minute when Shane Lennon fired home the only goal of a one-sided contest, stepping inside Barry Gilleran after Darren Clarke's delivery before beating Paddy Collumb at his near post.
Points from James Califf (two) and Conor Rafferty extended Louth's lead to six points, but Francis McGee and Donal McElligott kept the midlanders in the hunt until half-time as Louth adjourned with a 1-8 to 0-7 lead.
However, Glenn Ryan's experimental line-up failed to score from play in the second period.
Within 10 minutes of the restart Louth had doubled their lead to 1-13 to 0-8, with the hugely impressive Andy McDonnell popping up with some marvellous points from distance.
SCORERS – Louth: A McDonnell 0-5, S Lennon 1-1, J Califf 0-4 (2f), D Reid 0-3, D Clarke 0-2 (1f), C Rafferty, R Carroll 0-1 each; Longford: F McGee 0-4 (3f), D McElligott 0-3 (1f), J Keegan, B McKeon 0-1 each.
LOUTH – N Gallagher; J Bungham, D Finnegan, G Hoey; C Bellew, L Shevlin, D Byrne; C Rafferty, R Carroll; J Califf, A McDonnell, JJ Quigley; D Clarke, S Lennon, D Reid. Subs: R Moore for J Califf, P Keenan for C Rafferty, C McGuinness for D Byrne (all h-t), E O'Connor for JJ Quigley (48), J O'Brien for D Finnegan (52).
LONGFORD – P Collumb; P Foy, B Gilleran, F Battrim; M Duffy, K Diffley, D Brady; M Brady, J Keegan; JP Reilly, B McKeon, A Rowan; F McGee, D McElligott, E Dalton. Subs: P Kelly for JP Reilly (57), C Quaine for M Brady (68).
REF – D Gough (Meath)