Wednesday 22 November 2017

Kelly steps down as slick Longford send the Wee County crashing out

Longford 2-15 Louth 1-10

Louth manager Colin Kelly Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Louth manager Colin Kelly Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Gavin McLaughlin

Colin Kelly stepped down as Louth manager less than 24 hours after watching Longford blitz the Wee County in Drogheda on Saturday evening.

Kelly guided Louth to back to back promotions but they struggled in this year's championship, looking a pale imitation of the side that made it out of Division Three.

Barry McKeon scores Longford's second goal Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Barry McKeon scores Longford's second goal Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Speaking after the eight-point defeat, the 45-year-old intimated that his tenure was over and it was confirmed in a statement yesterday which read:

"After three years as manager of the Louth senior football team, I have decided not to seek an extension to my time in charge.

"I believe the time is right for someone else to take a fresh approach with a talented and committed group of players.

"Our championship ended on a disappointing note but the players have achieved progress with back to back promotions taking the county to Division Two.

Referee Noel Mooney shows a red card to Patrick Reilly of Louth Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Referee Noel Mooney shows a red card to Patrick Reilly of Louth Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Longford forward Robbie Smyth kicked seven points on Saturday propelling Denis Connerton's side towards something of a surprise, but well-deserved, victory.

Played in simmering heat, they took a four-point cushion into the break but it could - and should - have been a bigger margin but for seven first half wides. Longford's intensity was there for all to see with Smyth, Michael Quinn and David McGivney all puncturing a Louth backline that looked in disarray early on.

In contrast, the hosts looked ponderous with points from John Bingham and Jim McEneaney coming after some rare examples of high tempo attacking play.

Louth couldn't handle Smyth's movement and he had the final say of the half, scoring the point of the day to put Longford four ahead at the break, 0-9 to 0-4.

Just 33 seconds of the second half had elapsed when the visitors were awarded a penalty which Liam Connerton converted to put Longford seven points ahead. A 44th-minute Eoin O'Connor goal gave the natives an outside chance but it was Longford who reacted in style by scoring the next four points including a blistering solo effort by Dessie Reynolds.

Smyth's afternoon came to a end in the 58th minute when he was dismissed for a second yellow card but he had already done significant damage by then.

Another Bingham point left seven between them, 2-12 to 1-8, but any glimmer of Louth hope was extinguished when substitute Tommy Durnin was given his marching orders by Noel Mooney for a second bookable offence.

Barry McKeon's goal put the nail in Louth's coffin and the day ended in more misery for the hosts with Patrick Reilly and Ryan Burns also given gate, the latter for kicking a ball at the umpire, an act that summed up Louth's frustration.

The end of the road for Kelly, but for his opposite number Connerton, redemption following the heavy defeat by Laois and a place in the second round of the qualifiers.

"We're delighted to have been able to turn it around," he said. The players are well capable of what they did today. Maybe it's the presence of the giant that is Dublin but we don't seem to perform in Leinster."

Scorers - Longford: R Smyth 0-7 (5f), L Connerton, B McKeon 1-0 each, D McGivney 0-3 (2f), D Reynolds, L Moran, J Keegan, M Quinn, B Gilleran 0-1 each.

Louth: E O'Connor 1-0, J Califf 0-3 (2f), J Bingham, R Burns (2f) 0-2 each, J McEneaney, G McSorley (f), T Durnin 0-1 each.

LONGFORD: P Collum 7; D Brady 8, P McCormack 7, B Gilleran 8; D McElligott 7, M Quinn 8, D Reynolds 7; J Keegan 7, D McGivney 7; D Masterson 7, J McGivney 7, D Mimnagh 8; R Smyth 9, L Connerton 8, B McKeon 8. Subs: A Farrell 7 for B Gilleran 62; L Moran 7 for J McGivney 65; C Berry 7 for D McGivney 67; C Farrelly 5 for B McKeown 70; P McGee 5 for D Reynolds 70; R Brady 5 for D Brady 70.

LOUTH: C Lynch 6; Padraig Rath 6, John Bingham 6, Kurt Murphy 5; James Stewart 6, Darren McMahon 5, Anthony Williams 5; James Califf 6, Andy McDonnell 6; Ruairi Moore 5, Paraic Smith 6, Bevan Duffy 5; Patrick Reilly 5, Eoin O'Connor 6, Jim McEneaney 6. Subs: D Byrne 5 for J Stewart 28; A Reid 6 for K Murphy 37; T Durnin 4 for P Smith 40; R Burns 4 for R Moore 40; G McSorley 5 for J McEneaney 45; D Crilly 5 for J Califf 55.

REF - N Mooney (Cavan).

Irish Independent

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