Leinster SFC: Gallagher helps Longford past Louth
Leinster senior football championship Round 1
LONGFORD 1-9 LOUTH 1-7
By Paul Keane at TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar
Darren Gallagher rose about the treacherous conditions in Mullingar with 1-3 for Longford, including a crucial late point, to help secure a Leinster SFC quarter-final spot.
Tied six times in a low scoring affair on a heavy pitch, it looked as if extra-time may be required to separate the Division 3 teams.
But Longford finished strongest, outscoring Louth by 0-3 to 0-1 in the closing 10 minutes to secure a battling two-point win.
Gallagher scored one of those late points while substitute Robbie Smyth grabbed the other two to set up a home clash with Laois next Sunday.
Louth’s season is over and that’s particularly tough on Sam Mulroy who accounted for all of their scores on the day.
A heavy downpour that battered TEG Cusack Park beforehand and which continued throughout the opening quarter made for torrential conditions throughout.
Basic ball handling and distribution proved difficult though Longford coped best in the worst of the rain and opened up a significant early lead.
They led 1-2 to 0-1 with all of that 1-2 coming during an unlikely blitzkrieg between the seventh and eighth minutes.
Liam Connerton and Rian Brady points sandwiched Gallagher’s goal which was a surprisingly free flowing move that wouldn’t have been out of place on a hard pitch under the summer sun.
Gallagher was twice involved in a series of hand passes that shredded the centre of the Louth defence and maintained his run to accept a pass from Kevin Diffley and rifle in from close range.
Louth, playing with a two-man full-forward line of Mulroy and Conor Whelan, and with number 13 Patrick Reilly reverting to the role of sweeper, battled back impressively.
In fact, they led 1-3 to 1-2 after 28 minutes thanks mainly to Mulroy who curled over two frees and rifled a 27th minute goal after a probing run in from the left.
In a tit-for-tat scoring encounter, the sides were level at 1-3 and 1-4 apiece before Daniel Mimnagh pointed for Longford to send them in 1-5 to 1-4 ahead at the interval.
Gallagher scored 1-2 of Longford’s first-half tally while Mulroy accounted for all of Louth’s scoring.
Gallagher came out early for the second-half to test if a dead leg was up to it. He looked to be impeded while running but continued on and while he was less influential he proved his worth with that important late point.
Louth got the better of the third quarter exchanges and tied the game up for the fifth time just before the second water break at 1-6 apiece following back to back Mulroy points.
The second of those from Mulroy was Louth’s first from open play, in the 52nd minute.
Wayne Kierans’ side couldn’t kick on from there though and were powerless to prevent Longford from conjuring those three late points to advance to the last eight in the province.
To watch match highlights click below.
Longford scorers: Darren Gallagher 1-3 (0-1f), Rian Brady 0-2, Robbie Smyth 0-2, Liam Connerton 0-1, Daniel Mimnagh 0-1
Louth scorers: Sam Mulroy 1-7 (0-4f, 0-1 45).
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Patrick Fox, Andrew Farrell; Gary Rogers; Donal McElligott, Barry O’Farrell, Colm P Smyth; Darren Gallagher, Kevin Diffley; Dessie Reynolds, Joseph Hagan, Daniel Mimnagh; Rian Brady, Liam Connerton, Iarla O’Sullivan. Subs: Darragh Doherty for Hagan 35, Robbie Smyth for Reynolds 50, Peter Lynn for O’Sullivan 60, Aidan McGuire for Connerton 72.
LOUTH: Craig Lynch; Dan Corcoran, Dermot Campbell, Kevin Carr; Patrick Reilly; John Clutterbuck, Eoghan Callaghan, Anthony Williams; Tommy Durnin, Bevan Duffy; Liam Jackson, Ciaran Keenan, Conall McKeever; Sam Mulroy, Conor Whelan. Subs: Paul Matthews for Whelan h/t, Emmet Carolan for Duffy 50, Conor Grimes for Keenan 50, Gerry Garland for McKeever 63, Gerard McSorley for Reilly 67.
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).