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Longford's rise moves up a gear

LONGFORD'S second piece of silverware in successive seasons was secured at the expense of Leinster rivals, Wexford, in Croke Park on Saturday night when they captured the Allianz League Division 3 crown just a year after becoming Division 4 champions.

"I'm delighted because there are a lot of players who went through the hardship so I think they appreciate it more now," surmised manager, Glenn Ryan after the 1-12 to 0-13 win.

"They have used those disappointments and turned them into positives and probably become stronger individuals as a result.

"But I'm not just here to put trophies in the cabinet.

"There has to be a long-term aim as to what we are trying to do here and at least are we doing our best that the lads that are coming through are part of a set-up that is ambitious."

Paul Kelly's goal from a perfect Brian Kavanagh pass and a brilliant display of marksmanship from Seán McCormack were integral to the win, with Longford cruising home and eight points ahead with 20 minutes to go before a late Wexford revival gave the scoreline a closer look.

Wicklow win by Furlong

WICKLOW warmed up for their Leinster SFC opener with Meath by taking the Division 4 title with a comprehensive 2-16 to 1-11 dismissal of Peter Canavan's Fermanagh.

"It means a lot," said Seánie Furlong after collecting his own personal bounty of 1-5 (0-2f). "We might never get a chance again in Croke Park to go up those steps and lift the cup. You'd be at home watching the telly and seeing the likes of Kerry and Dublin doing that, and it's nice for Wicklow to get a taste of it."

Furling and Ciarán Hyland both plundered early goals to knock Fermanagh completely off kilter and with Tony Hannon, Rory Finn and Leighton Glynn all threatening up front, the Garden County had an easier-than-expected day out.

"I know the boys are hurting now at experiencing the losing feeling at Croke Park," said Canavan afterwards, "but everyone has to do that from time to time, and I'm hoping it will whet their appetite for more."