Thursday 14 December 2017

Ruthless Dublin put Longford to the sword in Croke Park cakewalk

Dublin 4-25 Longford 0-10

Diarmuid Connolly scores the first Dublin goal.
Diarmuid Connolly scores the first Dublin goal.
Bernard Brogan celebrates after scoring Dublin's fourth goal
Paul Flynn steps over the longford goalkeeper Paddy Collum after scoring the second Dublin goal

Sean McGoldrick

All those Leinster Council delegates who failed to utter a word in support of playing this fixture outside Croke Park ought to hang their heads in shame.

Better still, they should be forced to watch this mis-match on a continuous loop. Maybe then they will recognise the folly of their actions.

The official attendance was 33,544 for the double bill. This probably means that from an economic point of view Dublin's first round matches against the minnows in the provinces will be played outside the stadium in future anyway.

But the debate about the venue actually misses the bigger picture. 

What is the point in putting a county, which despite winning promotion from Division 4 and beating Offaly in the first round, are still minnows into battle against one of the favourites for the 2015 All-Ireland.

It is utter folly; it doesn't happen in club football and sooner or later the GAA and the counties themselves will have to accept that there ought to be a two-tier All-Ireland series.

Imagine the task that Longford boss Jack Sheedy faces in trying to revive his  forced for the All-Ireland qualifiers in July. 

Ironically, Offaly - despite losing to Longford at home in the first round - are mentally at least in a much better shape than Longford.

The match was more one-sided than anybody could have imagined.

Having kicked three points in the first four minutes a Diarmuid Connolly goal  after four minutes and 20 seconds effectively ended any remote possibility that Longford might offer a meaningful challenge.

In the end it was as gruesome as it was embarrassing as Longford endured a record 27 points trashing - surpassing their previous worst ever championship defeat to the Dubs; a 26 point mauling in 1960.

On that occasion Dublin scored 10 goals but Longford managed a respectable 3-8. There was no such consolation on this occasion as they managed two scores - both from Brian Kavanagh frees - in an embarrassingly one sided second half.

Just to prolong the agony the referee was obliged to play seven minutes of injury time after  two Longford players, substitute  Pauric Gill and Ross McNerney were involved in a sickening accidental collision. After prolonged treatment on the field the latter was taken off on a mobile stretcher.

Longford played their best football after falling 1-5 to 0-0 behind. Brian Kavanagh had the measure of Dublin's rookie full back David Byrne while wing forward Rory Connor kicked three glorious points from play between the 9th and the 13th minutes.

His marker Philly McMahon was withdrawn at half time and Connor didn't finish the game either. After 15 minutes it was a six point game (1-8 to 0-5) but that was as good as it got for Longford.

The lost midfielder Kevin Diffley to a black card five minutes before the break - he walked after a foot trip on Kevin McManamon as he provided the final pass for Dublin's second goal from Paul Flynn.

Dublin led 2-14 to 0-8 at the break and it was obvious that the second half would not be pretty. 

Any hope that Longford would beat the bookmaker's handicap of sixteen points evaporated 20 minutes from the end when within the space of 90 seconds Dean Rock and and Bernard Brogan hit goals.

Ciaran Kilkenny provided the final assists for both as well as for Diarmuid Connolly's first goal - the latter was withdrawn at half time.

By the 20th minute all the Dublin forwards had scored. Bernard Brogan looked particularly sharp hitting  1-6 from play while Dean Rock also chipped in with 1-6 - 1-2 of which came from play.

Paul Flynn hit 1-3 from play and Dublin had 11 scorers in total. But in truth the Dublin B squad would have given the A team a better game than Longford managed.

But it's not Longford's fault; instead it's a complete system failure by the Leinster Council - in terms of the venue - and the GAA in terms of the structure of the All-Ireland series.

Dublin: S Cluxton; J Cooper, D Byrne, P Mahon (0-1); D Daly, J Small, J McCaffrey; B Fenton (0-1), D Bastick; P Flynn (1-3), C Kilkenny (0-3), D Connolly (1-0); D Rock (1-6, 2 f, 2 45), K McManamon (0-2), B Brogan (1-6) Subs; T Brady (0-1) for Connolly ht; M Fitzsimons for McMahon ht; MD Macauley for Bastick 46m; P Andrews (0-1) for Flynn 52m; E Lowndes (0-1) for Cooper 55m, A Brogan for  B Brogan 61m;

Longford: P Collum (0-1, 1 45); D Brady, C Farrelly, B Gilleran; D Masterson, B O'Farrell, C Symth; M Quinn, K Diffley; R Connor (0-3), R McEntire, P Foy; B McKeon, B Kavanagh (0-5, 4f), R McNerney. Subs L Connerton (0-1) for McKeon 17m; D Reynolds for Diffley (Black Card) 30m, A Rowan for Smyth 48m P Gill for Connor 52m,  F Battrim for Masterson 58m; E Williams for McNerney 69m

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

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