Smyth's fine finishing gives Longford edge over Meath
Longford 0-9 Meath 1-5
Mullinalaghta's unlikely Leinster title success presents a window of opportunity for some of the younger players on the county panel, according to Longford manager Padraic Davis.
Davis, who himself enjoyed a distinguished inter-county career, succeeded Denis Connerton last September and has overseen back-to-back wins in the O'Byrne Cup following Saturday evening's slender victory over Meath at Ashbourne.
He will, of course, be without the Mullinalaghta contingent until mid-February at least, as they take on Dr Crokes in the All-Ireland semi-final on February 16.
"We have little option but to be trying out new players, but we would be trying them out anyway at this time of year," Davis said following the win over the Royals.
"All these young lads deserve to get games, there would be no point in bringing them in if we didn't give them a run.
"It is a huge opportunity for these players to get in and cement their place on the team.
"I was really happy with how they performed there tonight - particularly the lads who came off the bench. They were given a role and they seemed to carry out instructions to the letter of the law.
"A lot of our established players are not available for various reasons. That will probably impact on us going forward, but it is all about this group now.
"We conceded only five points, so you have to give them credit."
While Davis was fulsome in his praise for the newcomers, it was an old hand, Robbie Smyth, who called the shots in the Longford attack, accounting for eight of their nine points.
Smyth had four efforts on the board inside 17 minutes before Colm P Smith left the Midlanders five clear.
Ben Brennan opened Meath's tally from a '45 and it was his second point which was quickly followed by a goal that left the Royals just the minimum in arrears at the break, 1-2 to 0-6.
Meath were in front within eight minutes of the restart through Graham Reilly, but it was Smyth's three second-half points which saw his side over the line.
"Robbie is real quality, that is what he gives you, he is an outstanding kicker of the ball and is a very important player to us.
"He is an out-and-out striker and he has that ability to kick the ball over cover from wing positions.
"He's a real threat, he's a big strong guy, and he gives us exactly what we are looking for in front of goal."
Scorers - Longford: R Smyth 0-8 (5f), CP Smith 0-1. Meath: B Brennan 1-2 (1 '45, 1f), G Reilly 0-2 (1f), S Tobin 0-1.
Longford - P Collum; D Quinn, B O'Farrell, S Donohoe; CP Smith, M Quinn, D Mimnagh; D Gallagher, P Hanley; N Rabbitte, R McEntire, B McKeon; I O'Sullivan, A Farrell, R Smyth. Subs: M Hughes for McEntire, C Lee for O'Sullivan (both 46), C Shields for Farrell (59), J Hagan for Donohoe (68).
Meath - A Beakey; T McGovern, S Glynn, S Gallagher; E Lynch, G McCoy, R Garry; D Quinn, S Tobin; O McDonnell, L Ferguson, N Hickey; B Brennan, G Reilly, D McGowan. Subs: M Brennan for Beakey, S Reilly for McCoy, R Clarke for Gallagher, C Devlin for Ferguson (all h-t), B Menton for Lynch (67).
Ref - A Coyne (Westmeath).