Friday 15 December 2017

Longford bag late double to sink Down in extra-time drama

LONGFORD 2-25 DOWN 3-17 (aet)

Donal O’Hare of Down celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during
Donal O’Hare of Down celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during

Orla Bannon

Longford scored two goals in extra time to advance to the second round of All-Ireland qualifiers and complete a nightmare season for Down.

The Mourne men suffered an 11th defeat in 11 inter-county games this year, despite rallying from four points down at half time to take today's first round qualifier to extra time in Newry.

Longford subs Seamus Hannon and Mark Hughes bagged a goal in each period of extra time to put the visitors through to tomorrow's Round 2B draw.

Donal O'Hare hit 2-9 for Down but still ended up on the losing side.

Longford were four points up at half time but it could easily have been double that.

The visitors dominated and bar a breakaway goal finished by Conor Maginn, Down were well off the pace and lucky to only trail 0-11 to 1-4 at the break with Longford hitting eight first-half wides.

Inspirational captain Mickey Quinn drove them forward and set up numerous scores with Robbie Smyth, James McGivney, Barry McKeon and Diarmuid Masterson all taking stylish points from distance.

Down led by 0-2 to 0-1 after 11 minutes but Longford scored six of the next seven points in the following 10 minutes.

Barry O’Farrell of Longford in action against Barry O’Hagan of Down
Barry O’Farrell of Longford in action against Barry O’Hagan of Down

Down looeked short on confidence, but Maginn brought them back into it.

Kevin McKernan's long ball found Donal O'Hare, Barry O'Hagan then off-loaded to Maginn for an easy tap-in in Down's best move of the match.

The long ball and direct approach was something Down didn't exploit often enough and frequently coughed up possession too easily.

Longford capitalised on a lot of the turnovers, but poor shooting cost them a bigger interval lead.

Down came out a different team and O'Hare rattled the net 35 seconds after the restart

to set the tone for a much-improved second half.

Conor Maginn pointed to draw them level before Barry McKeon nudged Longford ahead again.

But there was far greater urgency to Down's play and O'Hare slotted home his second goal after 44 minutes to put the home side in front for the first time in over half an hour.

Ryan Mallon and the on-fire O'Hare put Down three points up, but having been outplayed in the second half, Longford somehow found another gear.

Three points from play in two minutes from the inspirational Quinn, Masterson and McGivney saw them draw level, at 3-9 to 0-18 with seven minutes to go.

They made it five in a row through Brian Kavanagh and Masterson to move two ahead but Mallon and sub Sean Dornan levelled it in the 69th minute with extra-time looming.

Quinn's fourth point in the second minute of injury time put Longford in front but after Michael Brady was sent-off for a second yellow, O'Hare equalised for Down taking it to extra-time.

Longford sub Seamus Hannon bagged a goal nine minutes into extra time to help the visitors lead 1-23 to 3-16 at half-time and Hughes clinched it with an 86th minute goal.

DOWN: M Reid; C McGovern, G McGovern, D O'Hagan; D McKibbin, A Carr, D O'Hanlon; P Turley, K McKernan; R Mallon (0-4), M Poland (0-1), J Murphy; C Maginn (1-1), D O'Hare (2-9, 8f), B O'Hagan (0-1)

Subs: G Collins for McKibbin (43), M McKay for McKernan (53), D Turley for Murphy (55), S Dornan (0-1) for B O'Hagan (63), H Brown for McKay (BC, 79), K McKernan for Maginn (84), B McArdle for Carr (89)

LONGFORD: P Collum; C Farrelly, B Gilleran, D Brady; D McElligot, M Quinn (0-4), D Masterson (0-3); M Brady, D Gallagher; D Reynolds (0-1), J McGivney (0-3), B McKeon (0-2); R Smyth (0-4, 1f), B Kavanagh (0-6, 5f), B O'Farrell

Subs: P McGee for Gilleran (47), L Connerton for Gallagher (55), S Hannon (1-1) for McKeon (60), B Farrell for Reynolds (67), M Hughes (1-0) for J McGivney (BC, 80), R Connor for Smyth (86), D McGivney for Quinn (89)

REFEREE: Barry Cassidy (Derry)

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