Longford snatch O'Byrne Cup win as Dessie Farrell's Dublin tenure starts with defeat - and 23 substitutions
Longford 1-13 Dublin 3-6
A SURPRISINGLY rousing finale to an at times surreal, at other times feisty, O’Byrne Cup semi-final in Longford saw the hosts come from behind to inflict a last-gasp defeat on Dublin.
Dessie Farrell’s rookie brigade looked poised to reach the final when leading by two points after sub Gerry Seaver landed his second point in the 65th minute.
But in a madcap finish, the home team landed the last three points via a Darren Gallagher free, a 71st minute-point from sub Darragh Doherty and then, with the four additional minutes just up, another hotly disputed free from Gallagher that crept over the crossbar.
The match finished with Westmeath referee Alan Coyne having to be escorted off the pitch by stewards, with Dublin fans behind the goal venting their fury at several of his late decisions.
This may have been the start of the Dessie Farrell era, but not as we’ll get to know it over the coming weeks and months.
With an unlimited number of substitutions allowed in this pre-season competition, the new boss took full advantage and, by the final bell, over-wrought reporters had clocked the final audit of rolling Dublin changes at a staggering 23.
Dublin came to Glennon Brothers Pearse Park this afternoon with an experimental starting 15, populated by a handful of All-Ireland U21 winners and plenty more wannabes who have never been close to an established senior squad under Jim Gavin.
Then Farrell proceeded to experiment even more: by half-time he had made ten substitutions, making it abundantly clear that this O’Byrne Cup semi-final was being viewed as a training session, and little more, by a new Dublin regime with different priorities and far bigger competitions on their mind.
At that stage the sides were level – Longford 0-6, Dublin 1-3 – the visitors having recovered from a slumbering start that saw them trailing by 0-4 to 0-1 midway through the half.
Then in the 19th minute Emmet Ó Conghaile (one of the more familiar Dubs on view) fed Ross McGowan, who had just entered the fray as their first replacement.
With his first touch, the Kilmacud player flicked the ball goalwards to the lurking Killian O’Gara, and the younger brother of the recently retired Eoghan was in the right place to toe-poke a shot past ‘keeper Paddy Collum.
O’Gara’s reward? He was immediately replaced!
As Dublin emptied the bench, the scores dried up completely over the next minutes.
Rian Brady had been Longford’s most incisive and accurate forward before the break, and he ended that barren period with his third point, capitalising on a marauding run forward by Dessie Reynolds.
Dublin landed two of the last three points before the break to leave the sides level, then received the perfect second half start when Niall O’Callaghan – younger brother of Con – buried his first goal within 20 seconds.
Dublin were two up before Longford struck back with a 46th minute-goal from midfielder Kevin Diffley, bundling home the loose ball after ‘keeper Michael Shiel had repelled Daniel Mimnagh’s initial piledriver.
But then a mistake by Longford full-back Andew Farrell in the 50th minute gifted Dublin possession, and Niall Walsh released O’Callaghan, racing through one-on-one with Paddy Collum.
The Longford netminder repelled his first attempt, but O’Callaghan reacted sharply to finish the rebound for his second goal.
As it transpired, the drama was only starting …
SCORERS – Longford: R Brady 0-5 (1f), D Gallagher 0-5 (4f), K Diffley 1-0, O Kenny 0-2, D Doherty 0-1. Dublin: N O’Callaghan 2-0, K O’Gara 1-0, G Seaver 0-2, CJ Smith, D McLoughlin, N Doran, G O’Reilly 0-1 each.
LONGFORD: P Collum; P Fox, A Farrell, B O’Farrell; I O’Sullivan, M Quinn, CP Smyth; D Gallagher, K Diffley; G Rogers, D Mimnagh, D Reynolds; R Brady, J Hagan, O Kenny.
Subs: D Doherty for Rogers (57), P Lynn for Kenny (60), L Connerton for Reynolds (68).
DUBLIN: M Shiel; CJ Smith, E O’Brien, D Byrne; N McGovern, G Hannigan, C Murphy; E Ó Conghaile, T Lahiff; N Walsh, D O’Brien, G O’Reilly; K O’Gara, N O’Callaghan, C Sallier.
Subs: R McGowan for Murphy (18), S Fulham for O’Gara (19), R Deegan for O’Reilly (21), G Seaver for Walsh (25), S Cleary for Smith (25), D Quinn for Sallier (27), D McLoughlin for O’Brien (27), N Doran for Lahiff (29), E O’Dea for McGovern (31), C Howley for Ó Conghaile (34), Ó Conghaile for Howley (41), Walsh for Seaver (45), O’Reilly for Deegan (45), Murphy for Cleary (49), Sallier for O’Callaghan (50), McGovern for O’Dea (55), O’Gara for Quinn (55), O’Brien for McLoughlin (55), Lahiff for Doran (60), Seaver for Fulham (60), Smith for Hannigan (63), O’Callaghan for Sallier (68), E O’Dea for Murphy (73).
REF: A Coyne (Westmeath)