Monday 1 May 2017

Incredible comeback sees Longford to glory

Longford 4-10 Antrim 1-12

Longford players, from left, Michelle Farrell, Aoife Darcy, Claire Farrell, Aisling Reynolds and Emer Heaney celebrate. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Longford players, from left, Michelle Farrell, Aoife Darcy, Claire Farrell, Aisling Reynolds and Emer Heaney celebrate. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

A second half goal glut sealed a first TG4 All-Ireland junior ladies football title since 1997 for Michael Bohan's Longford at Croke Park this afternoon.

Midfielder Jacinta Brady claimed the player of the match award as the Midlanders ended a 19-year wait for national silverware.

Áine Devlin of Antrim in action against Sinéad Hughes of Longford. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Áine Devlin of Antrim in action against Sinéad Hughes of Longford. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

In a quite incredible game, Longford overturned a nine-point half-time deficit to win with seven to spare.

Seven minutes before half-time, Longford trailed by 0-2 to 1-8 but three unanswered points before the break kept Bohan's charges in touch, down by 0-5 to 1-8.

The second half was superb from a Longford viewpoint as substitutes Aoife Darcy and Aisling Reynolds made big scoring impacts.

Bohan ran his bench early - three subs introduced in the first half and another at the break.

Orla Noonan of Longford in action against Aislinn McFarland and Eleanor Mallon, left, of Antrim . Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Orla Noonan of Longford in action against Aislinn McFarland and Eleanor Mallon, left, of Antrim . Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Ultimately, it was a run of 3-8 without reply that ensured West County Hotel Cup glory for Longford - as they tagged on an unanswered 3-5 after the interval.

Antrim went without a score from the 23rd minute until 12 minutes from time as Longford ran riot.

Brady's 34th minute goal sparked the revival but Longford's next two goals had more than a hint of good fortune about them.

The approach work was excellent, but Emer Heaney's 36th minute goal was deflected into the net by back-tracking Sarah Haughey.

And two minutes later, Darcy's shot was deflected in by Antrim wing-back Eleanor Mallon.

As Longford continued to press, they were eight points clear when Orla Noonan fired over a fine point in the 42nd minute - a score that represented a massive 17-point turnaround when their first half deficit is taken into account.

It appeared that Antrim were on their way to a third junior title win in eight seasons when they stormed into that big first half lead.

Claire Timoney banged home a super goal in the 12th minute to rock Longford back on their heels and it appeared that Longford were out of luck before half-time when Heaney's shot struck the crossbar.

But they were rewarded with a sparkling second half display and Aishling Greene's goal with six minutes remaining was the icing on the cake for electric Longford.

Scorers - Longford: A Reynolds 0-5 (1f), J Brady, A Greene & A Darcy 1-1 each, E Heaney 1-0, O Noonan & L Burke 0-1 each.
Antrim: C Timoney 1-3 (0-2f), E Gallagher 0-4 (1f), M Cooper & M McGourty 0-2 each, Á Devlin 0-1.
LONGFORD - M Kilkenny; S Hughes, L Keegan, M O'Reilly; C Farrell, E Dooley, M Moore; J Brady, M Reynolds; C Delaney, O Noonan, A.M. Bratton; A Greene, E Heaney, L Burke.
Subs: M Noonan for O'Reilly (15), A Darcy for Delaney (20), A Reynolds for Burke (23), M Farrell for Dooley (h.t.), A Duffy for Moore (53).
ANTRIM - C Drain; S Tennyson, E Kelly, S Haughey; E Mallon, S Cochrane, J McCavana; C Carey, D O'Kane; M Cooper, C Timoney, M McGourty; A McFarland, E Gallagher, Á Devlin.
Subs : Á Tubridy for O'Kane (32), A McCann for Drain (43), C Dahunsi for E Kelly (48), N Kelly for Cochrane (53), M McCurdy for McGourty (55).
Ref - J Murphy (Carlow).

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