Saturday 16 December 2017

Smith cut above for the Slashers

Longford SFC Final
L'ford slashers 0-11 Dromard 1-5

They made hard work out of it, but Longford Slashers claimed a first title in 16 years at Pearse Park yesterday.

Cruising with a seven-point lead over Dromard with two minutes of normal time to go, Cian Mimnagh's goal brought excitement to the game but Slashers held on to deservedly claim the Sean Connolly Cup.

They were the better team, with their midfield superior and backline on top throughout. Manager Denis Connerton -- who managed Dromard to their first ever senior title in 1999 -- had his players in prime condition and they dominated the collisions.

Without injured marksman Francis McGee, Dromard couldn't get the scores needed and despite dominating the second half, they scored just 1-3 when they needed a lot more.

With a six-point lead at the interval, Slashers invited the north Longford side on to them, knowing that without McGee they would struggle from placed balls. Although Dromard opened the scoring through Jamesie Martin, it became clear they were in for a long afternoon.

Slashers took control of midfield, with David Sheridan's fielding impressive and Neil Mulligan and Paul Kelly making runs from deep. By the time Dromard scored again, they were 0-5 to a point down and it could have been worse.

Colin Smith got the Slashers up and running with a free, before Sheridan might have scored a goal when put through by Mulligan, only for the midfielder to fist over. Sheridan then returned the favour when he broke the ball to Mulligan who burst through the defence and opted to point. Mark Smith cleverly played a one-two to point, before he added a free after another fine Mulligan run.

Dromard were struggling although Mimnagh pulled a point back on 22 minutes and county goalkeeper Damien Sheridan brilliantly kept his side in touch with a save from Colin Smith -- who was put through by Mulligan after fine play from impressive full-forward Stephen Phillips.

Knowing their dominance needed more on the scoreboard, Slashers pushed on in the closing stages and the inspirational Kelly set up scores for Phillips and Philip Dobson.

A final Mulligan score, coming after a move involving more than 10 passes, sent them in six points up at the break. As Slashers invited Dromard on to them after the interval, neither team scored for 15 minutes.

Dromard missed a number of kickable frees to bring their side back into it, before a fine Peter Masterson point took their total to 0-3.

Colin Smith responded with two frees as the game approached full-time. But there was to be a twist as Mimnagh struck for a goal and point.

He pounced on Dermot Brady's broken ball to beat Gordon Hourican with a left-footed shot before Jamesie Martin added a free to bring the gap down to two.

Insurance

But Smith scored an insurance point in injury time, delighting his manager and the long-suffering Slashers fans.

"We got a great start and we were leading by more than I expected us to," Connerton said. "The second half was a non-event, very little happened as both sides struggled to score.

"The late goal made it very exciting in the finish, but overall Slashers deserved victory. It's very hard when you're in the lead to keep going, it didn't really happen for Dromard. Slashers were very hungry. Sixteen years is a long time without a county title. They brought that hunger out today and certainly deserved it."

SCORERS -- Longford Slashers: C Smith 0-4 (3f), M Smith (1f), N Mulligan 0-2 each, D Sheridan, S Phillips, P Dobson 0-1 each.

Dromard: C Mimnagh 1-2 (1f), J Martin 0-2 (1f), P Masterson 0-1.

LONGFORD SLASHERS -- G Hourican; G Ghee, B Gilleran, D Glennon; P Brady, D Brady, P Kelly; N Mulligan, D Sheridan; T Clendenning, C Smith, A Murphy; M Smith, S Phillips, P Dobson. Subs: S Flynn for Dobson (55), T O'Rourke for Brady (60), M Tarmey for Murphy (60).

DROMARD -- D Sheridan; P Reynolds, C Conefrey, P Magee; J Sheridan, N Vance, P Martin; D Masterson, D Sheridan; D Petit, C Mimnagh, P Masterson; J Martin, D Mimnagh, R McEntire. Subs: K Donohoe for P Martin (25), B Sheridan for D Sheridan (h-t), N Reynolds for B Sheridan (49), P Faughnan for D Mimnagh (63), D Mimnagh for Magee (68).

REF -- D Fahy (Ballymahon).

Irish Independent

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