Longford shine as Cavan & Roscommon crash out

As Leitrim wait for their championship date with London, there was mixed luck for their neighbours last Sunday as Longford scored a long over-due win, a young Cavan put up brave display against Ulster champions Donegal while Roscommon were blown out of the water by a rejuvenated Galway.

As Leitrim wait for their championship date with London, there was mixed luck for their neighbours last Sunday as Longford scored a long over-due win, a young Cavan put up brave display against Ulster champions Donegal while Roscommon were blown out of the water by a rejuvenated Galway.

Longford came from six points down at halftime to defeat Longford 1-10 to 0-12 in a dramatic match in Pearse Park, their first Leinster championship win after four years under Glen Ryan and the former Kildare great was naturally delighted.

““I’m delighted for the players to have got over the line, it’s been a difficult couple of years for them in this competition. They have been trying to get over the line for so long and there is no doubt that we had to work very hard.

“We didn’t work hard enough in the first half. We played better football in the second half, but also we got that bit of luck that we required to get us over the line.”

If Ryan was delighted, his Laois counter-part Justin McNulty was less than pleased with the performance of Sligo referee Michael Duffy – “I think there were a few hometown decisions as well during the game which is always going to happen in championship. It’s something you have to deal with and you have to beat the referee as well.

“You’d have to say ‘fair play to Longford’, they’ve waited a long time for this and they deserve their day in the sun. I think we controlled the game for long periods. We probably weren’t as ruthless as we needed to be in front of goal. I think the wide count will verify that. 

“The goal was crucial for them. When it looked like they were dead and buried the goal gave them the confidence to come back. Probably the biggest factor was that they took their chances and we didn’t. Simple as that.”

Over in Hyde Park, any thoughts of a Roscommon ambush were ruthlessly dismissed by Galway who ran away with a 3-15 to 0-10 victory their biggest ever in the Hyde but Roscommon manager Des Newton refused to criticise his players – “We are not as bad as that game reflected. I know that and our lads know that.

“They are the most disappointed, whatever disappointment I feel I can assure that they are far, far more disappointed. I have seen bigger teams that us take bigger beatings and they have come back from it, so what we do next is the important thing now.

“Galway showed all the desire, but I can’t criticise the players, they’ve given me everything over the last six months. We have to look at ourselves, this was always going to be a project. This is a hard defeat to take, but out of defeat you learn things about people.”

If Newton was trying to pick up the pieces, a new self-confidence was surrounding Galway as veteran midfielder Joe Bergin said “I think the big thing for us is we’re enjoying our football now. Alan has brought a lot of enjoyment to the game and training has been going well.

“There has been a lot of change and the big thing now for us is consistency. Today we played some good football, but there’s no point in it if we don’t back it up against Sligo because if we don’t we’ll get beaten.”

Bergin was also delighted to see the return of Michael Meehan – “Nine out of 10 guys would have thrown their hats at it, between the ankle, the shoulder and all the rest. But it shows the resolve of this guy - he loves football, he loves Galway. There was no one happier than me to see him come on after all that he has gone through. Hopefully now he can enjoy a good, long summer with the rest of us.”

Bergin also paid tribute to manager Alan Mulholland and the impact he has had since taking over the managerial reins – “I think the big thing for us is we’re enjoying our football now. Alan has brought a lot of enjoyment to the game and training has been going well.

“There has been a lot of change and the big thing now for us is consistency. Today we played some good football, but there’s no point in it if we don’t back it up against Sligo because if we don’t we’ll get beaten.”

New Galway manager Alan Mulholland admitted his surprise at the ease of the victory in the Hyde – “The lads were edgy coming into this game but that helped us, it focused us. Roscommon missed some chances early on and then for 20 minutes in the first half we stamped our authority on the match.

“We’ve done well today, but Sligo will be a totally different proposition. They had a good performance in New York, I know you can’t really read too much into that but Kevin (Walsh) knows Galway football probably better than I do.

“So it’s going to be hell for leather against them and we will have it all to do to beat Sligo the next day. But we are going to draw confidence out of this. It was fantastic to play well and hopefully we build on that and play better the next day.”

Over in Breffni Park, new boss Terry Hyland felt that his young team were unable to match Donegal’s power, 1-16 to 1-10, as, like Roscommon, the task of moving a highly rated Under 21 side into the Senior ranks continues.

“They come at you in waves of twos and threes,” said Terry, “To stop that, you need to be pretty physical and we are not at that stage of physical development yet,” said Hyland, who was last month handed a five-year term in charge of the Breffni County.

“Donegal are coming from winning an Ulster title. They are in Division 1 and Cavan are in Division 3. Of course that is a big difference. I suppose you have to put it down to the learning curve. We had a young squad out. The second half performance wasn’t that bad. Our shot selection was probably a bit off. That’s the thing we have to work on, but that’s one of those things that comes with experience.”