Fingal hold firm to open Nicky Rackard account
It was a landmark day of sorts for Fingal and Naomh Barrog as the Kilbarrack club hosted its first-ever inter hurling county championship game on Saturday.
Fingal 3-20 Longford 3-15
The pitch has had its problems in the past but was in immaculate condition for this contest which saw Mick Kennedy's charges return to winning ways after a run of three defeats in the league.
With a number of club championship fixtures fixed for that evening, Fingal's hand was forced somewhat in terms of team selection.
That and the fact they were playing away from their traditional home in Lawless Park put Fingal at a slight disadvantage, although in saying that they would have been expected to win this one handily enough.
Fingal were pinned to their collar in the second half as Longford put the their goal under some considerable pressure.
Central to this was the display of Longford's Joe O'Brien who was a class act at corner forward.
His third goal, which brought Longford right back into the game, saw him dispossess Paul Quinn before driving past the keeper.
It was anyone's game at the stage, but Kieran O'Sullivan, having coming off the bench, was to spare Fingal's blushes as they set up a quarter-final clash with Monaghan next weekend.
Fingal had begun the game in the ascendancy with three unanswered points from Simon Owens, TJ Howard and JM Sheridan before O'Brien instigated a play which would ultimately see Cathal Mullane touch home a high ball sent in by Kevin Connelly on nine minutes.
However, Fingal maintained their composure and their hooking and blocking was excellent at this stage as they reeled off another succession of scores.
The home side were then awarded a penalty on 18 minutes after Darren Renahan was dragged down and he duly drove a low shot past Reuben Murray in the Longford goal.
Then, following two successive frees from Sheridan, the same player then pointed a terrific shot from inside the touchline to bring Fingal's lead out to seven points.
Shortly after that, Sheridan's clubmate TJ Howard was first to react off a hight ball played into the square on 31 minutes as Fingal moved into a 2-10 to 1-4 lead at the break.
But while scores from JM and his brother Paddy kept the Fingal score ticking along nicely, Longford were starting to make inroads, with Connelly quite a handful in midfield.
A goal from Paddy Farrington on 50 minutes was to start the revival, although they were still a bit of the Fingal lead at that stage, with impressive half forwards Luke Kelly and Simon Owens both sending over important scores.
Nonetheless, Longford remained dogged in their pursuit of Fingal and while Mark Cullen was to pull off an important save off Farrington, scores from Martin Coyle and Farrington were then followed by O'Brien's goal with five minutes to go.
O'Brien was then to register a point on the turn to put just two points between the teams, before JM popped up once more with an inspiring point from the touchline.
Heading into injury time it was still anyone's game,with Cullen pulling off his second important save off Gerard More before O'Sullivan landed the telling blow.
Fingal: Mark Cullen, Eoin O Connor, Paul Quinn, Nathan McCaffrey, Ryan Swift, Kevin O Flynn, Paddy Sheridan 0-2, Killian O'Flynn 0-1, Ross McGarry, Eoin Thynne, Luke Kelly 0-1, Simon Owens 0-2, TJ Howard 1-3, Darren Renahan 1-0(1-0 pen) JM Sheridan 0-11(0-6f, 0-1 65f). Subs: Ian Furlong for Killian O'Flynn (48), Stephen Goff for Swift (49), Dara O'Brien for O'Connor (50 ), Paul Graves for Thynne (60) 6, Kieran O'Sullivan 1-0 for McGarry (69),
Longford: Reuban Murray, Gerard Moore, Karl Murray, John Gaffney, Paddy Corcoran, Bart Hanley 0-1, Johnny Casey, Martin Coyle 0-1, Paddy Walsh 0-1(0-1f), John Mulhern, Kevin Connelly 0-1, Paul Barden, Joe O Brien 1-7(0-1f, 0-1 65) Paddy Farrington 1-3, Cathal Mullane 1-1. Subs: Keelan Cox for Barden (49), Aiden Sheridan for Casey (55)
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)