Saturday 16 December 2017

Ryan weighing up options as Longford fail again

Limerick 1-21 Longford 1-15 Daragh O Conchuir SFC round 2 QUALIFIER

(After extra-time)

Glenn Ryan is pondering his future as Longford manager following this defeat, which he blamed on a number of tight games this year finally taking their toll.

Certainly, Longford were not able to go with the visitors once the tempo was increased, and the progress that has been made at league level offered little succour to the Kildare native, who said that he didn't know if he would be continuing into a fifth season at the helm.

"There just didn't seem to be a spark in the legs at all," said Ryan. "During the week we were conscious of that and tried to keep them fresh. I think that's our 14th competitive game this year. I'm not using it as an excuse. Limerick played well.

"If we had won, you'd have said we'd made progress but we've still gone out at the same stage as we did last year, and the year before and the year before. At the end of the day, it's about championship.

"These fellas have done remarkably well in the league and even in the championship, they've given great performances but we still haven't gotten any further. It's a hard thing to take because I still think we're capable of going a little further."

Limerick counterpart Maurice Horan was beaming, however. He has revitalised the players following the Munster semi-final defeat to Clare, despite the loss of captain Ger Collins to injury, and Stephen Lavin and Tom Lee for personal reasons.

They trusted youth and their substitutions worked a treat, with 1-6 coming from three of them.

"We focused on what we can do, not getting too caught up in the opposition. In fairness to the young guys that came on, they were great," Horan said.

"You can only take the qualifiers one game at the time. It's very straightforward and a beautiful system for a county like Limerick. We got the toughest draw we could have got."

They key moment came in the 63rd minute, when Brian Scanlon made a reflex save from a Francis McGee shot, at a time when the home side were leading by three points.

Johnny McCarthy made a rare sally forward to score a point from the next attack and the momentum shifted.

Points from Ian Ryan and Sheehan brought the sides level, only for Sean McCormack to restore Longford's advantage in the third minute of injury-time. There was still time, though, for Derry O'Connor to force extra-time.

There was only one team in it from that juncture, with Limerick having the belief and energy, and O'Connor sealed the deal for the Shannonsiders with his 90th-minute goal.

Longford had Declan Reilly and David Barden sent off in the second period of extra-time for two yellows.

Scorers -- Limerick: D O'Connor 1-2, I Ryan 0-4 (3f), E O'Connor, I Corbett 0-3 each, S Buckley 0-2, S Kelly, S Lucey, J McCarthy, M Sheehan, CP Smyth, B Scanlon(45), S O'Carroll 0-1 each. Longford: S McCormack 0-8 (4f), F McGee 0-4, N Mulligan 1-0, P Barden 0-2, D Barden 0-1.

Limerick -- B Scanlon 8; A Lane 6, J McCarthy 9, L O'Dwyer 6; J Riordan 7, S Lucey 7, P Ranahan 7; J Donovan 7, S Buckley 8; J O'Meara 7, S Kelly 8, P Browne 7; E O'Connor 8, I Ryan 7, S O'Carroll 7. Subs: M Sheehan 7 for Lane (40), I Corbett 8 for O'Dwyer (54), D Quaid 6 for Lucey (65), B O'Brien 6 for Donovan (66), D O'Connor 8 for Kelly (69), E Barry 6 for O'Meara (76).

Longford -- D Sheridan 6; D Brady 8, B Gilleran 8, D Reilly 6; CP Smyth 6, M Quinn 7, S Mulligan 6; B McElvaney 6, J Keegan 6; D McElligott 6, P Barden 6, N Mulligan 7; F McGee 8, B Kavanagh 6, S McCormack 7. Subs: D Barden 5 for Keegan (h-t), P McCormack 6 for McElligott (h-t), P Foy 6 for McElvaney (59), N Farrell 6 for Smyth (70), JJ Matthews 6 for Kavanagh (79), McElvaney for N Mulligan (84).

Ref -- P Hughes (Armagh).

Irish Independent

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