The 2012 Fr. Manning Cup U-16 Football Tournament got under way at Pairc na nGael, Dromard on Wednesday last with Longford scoring a convincing win over Leitrim and the home county got off to a flying start when Longford full-forward Aidan McElligott fired home a well struck goal in the early stages of the game.
Just two minutes were gone on the clock when Longford midfielder David McGivney let the ball into fellow County Minor McElligott who proceeded to plant the ball in the back of the net and while that was a significant setback for Leitrim, they showed good character in managing to remain in contention for most of the first half.
Inspired by impressive midfielder Mark Plunkett who landed three excellent points from play, Leitrim only trailed by 1-4 to 0-5 with five minutes of the first half remaining but the generally superior Longford side stepped up another gear to enjoy a glorious spell that yielded six scores on the trot through Rian Brady (2), Shane Kenny (2), Michael Corcoran and Nigel Rabbitte.
That decisive dominant period more or less put the issue beyond all doubt and lively corner-forward Brady was particularly impressive in the first half with 0-4 (one free) to his credit while the other Longford points came from Rabbitte (‘45’) and Kenny, the latter starting at centrefield but who was switched to full-forward where he made the desired impact.
Also on target for Leitrim in the first half were David Mulvey and Gary Fowley and it was a real uphill battle for the Green & Gold on the changeover with Longford holding a comfortable 1-10 to 0-5 lead at the break.
It was somewhat against the run of play that the home side extended their advantage with a point from Jamie King in the 39th minute and while Leitrim then staged a brief rally to register three scores in a row through Luke Murphy (free), Conor Gaffney and Evan Ward. But Leitrim also had a lucky escape when Longford wing forward King was denied a goal after hitting the crossbar in the 43rd minute.
Scores were then exchanged between Aidan McElligott (free) and Leitrim substitute Cathal McTiernan and Longford got on top again in adding three more points to their tally through David McGivney, Ronan Duffy and Rian Brady to run out emphatic winners in the finish.
Luke Murphy missed a glorious goal chance for Leitrim in the 53rd minute when shooting wide from close range while Longford substitute Ciaran Donohoe had a good opportunity to find the back of the net soon after but his point-blank shot was saved by the opposing keeper Jason Farry.
Luke Meehan; Eoin Higgins, Ronan Sweeney, Dessie Reynolds; Aaron Earley, Darragh Gilna, Alan Sorohan; David McGivney (0-1), Shane Kenny (0-3); Jamie King (0-1), Ronan Duffy (0-1), Nigel Rabbitte (0-2); Rian Brady (0-5, one free), Aidan McElligott (1-1, point from free), Michael Corcoran (0-1). Subs: Ciaran Donohoe for M Corcoran (47 mins); Mark Tully for E Higgins (53 mins); Enda Macken for R Duffy (59 mins).
Jason Farry; Oisin Madden, Philip Dolan, Jerome Maguire; Liam Ryan, Dean McGovern, Shane McGowan; Evan Ward (0-1), Mark Plunkett (0-3); Francis McNabola, David Mulvey (0-1), Keith Keegan; Luke Murphy (0-1, free), Conor Gaffney (0-1), Gary Fowley (0-1). Subs: Hugh Moylan for K Keegan (20 mins); Cathal McTiernan (0-1) for G Fowley (42 mins); Enda Moreton for F McNabola (48 mins); Gerard McDermott for P Dolan (57 mins).
Referee: Paul Daly (Roscommon).