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Brady and Barden lead Longford blitz

Longford was last night savouring a rare Croke Park triumph. Glenn Ryan's side looked sluggish and nervous in the first half, but after the break they performed with flair and passion to see off Roscommon with surprising ease.

First-half goals from Martin Brady and Paul Barden gave them a cushion which helped them impose themselves on the game.

The Connacht champions appeared to have one eye on next weekend's trip to New York, where they begin the defence of their provincial title, offering only token resistance after a bright opening.

Longford scored just two points in the first half, but the goals helped them to a two-point interval lead.

Wing-back Shane Mulligan was the provider on both occasions. First he combined with Barden to free midfielder Brady to drill in a rocket in the eighth minute.

The Rossies cancelled out that strike seven minutes later when slack defending allowed the hard-working Cathal Cregg to turn over possession on the left wing before sending full-forward Senan Kilbride through unopposed to blast past Damien Sheridan.

Kilbride, who has been troubled by a hamstring problem, went off two minutes later, with next weekend's Connacht Championship trip to New York in mind, and his side promptly conceded a second goal. Mulligan then got forward again to set up skipper Barden for his side's second on 20 minutes.

Both sides were guilty of some woeful finishing, but a couple of Kevin Higgins points had Roscommon level by the 25th minute.

It took Longford 35 minutes to register their opening point, but two converted frees by Sean McCormack sent them in at the break with a 2-2 to 1-3 lead.

It was a different story in the second half for Ryan's side, who began to attack with some conviction. Brian Kavanagh notched a couple of points and the accurate McCormack delivered further scores from frees and play, with Barden also on target from distance.

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Sheridan saved Karol Mannion's 51st-minute penalty and then deflected a Cregg screamer over the bar. Cregg and Conor Devanney had points for Roscommon, who outscored their opponents by five points to two in the closing stages but the gap was too great by then.

Scorers -- Longford: P Barden 1-2, M Brady 1-0, S McCormack 0-6 (4f), B Kavanagh 0-2, B McElvaney 0-1. Roscommon: S Kilbride 1-0, C Cregg 0-4, K Higgins 0-2, C Devanney, D Warde 0-1 each

Longford: D Sheridan; D Brady, B Gilleran D Reilly; S Mulligan, D Masterson N Farrell; B McElvaney, M Brady; D Barden, P Dowd, P Barden; D McElligot, B Kavanagh, S McCormack. Subs: K Diffley for Masterson, N Mulligan for D Barden, JJ Matthews for Dowd, P Foy for Farrell, F McGee for McCormack

Roscommon: G Claffey; S McDermott, P Domican, N Carty; S Purcell, D Keenan, D Warde; M Finneran, K Mannion, C Devanney; K Higgins, C Cregg; J Rogers, S Kilbride, D Shine. Subs: G Heneghan for Kilbride, S O'Grady for Rogers, I Kilbride for Purcell, E Kenny for Shine, I Kilbride for Devanney

Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)

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