Longford in Leinster U21 Final
1980 started off in similar vein at county level with a heavy defeat to Laois in the championship. Operating at division 4 of the national league didn’t seem to help matters, although Longford had a very consistent home record. 1981 saw defeat to Westmeath in the senior championship, but the u-21s provided a ray of hope as wins over Kilkenny and Kildare saw Longford reach their second Leinster U21 final, but Louth were too strong for Longford in the final played at Croke Park. Two late goals in the first half sealed Longford’s fate, and while the 2-8 to 0-6 scoreline is harsh on Longford, Louth were deserving winners. The Longford team was H Smith, J Halpin, S Mullooly, D Clabby, P Smith, M Sexton, D Barry, B Lennon, P Carberry, D Breslin, R Culhane, J McCormack, R Cheevers, F O’Hara, D Maguire. Subs J Keegan, M Kenny.
Good runs in the league and O’Byrne Cup saw Longford in good form heading into the championship and a terrific win over Meath, 0-12 to 0-11. The draw wasn’t kind to Longford and Dublin were too strong in the quarter final winning 1-15 to 2-6. Promotion was gained in the league, a play off win over Sligo seeing Longford go up a division. The u-21s again had a superb year with wins over Westmeath and Kildare to reach the final against Laois, but Laois were comfortable winners, 2-11 to 0-3. The team was H Smith, B O’Rourke, D Mullooly, A O’Brien, T Victory, D Caslin, J Farrell, B Lennon, D Clabby, D Barry, J Keegan, E McCormack, J Lee, D Rowley, P Carberry. Subs G Crowe, M Duggan, J Halpin
1983 saw some good performances again and a first round championship win over Carlow set up a quarter final against Kildare, but Kildare won 3-9 to 2-9. Wins over Wexford, Kilkenny and Westmeath also saw Longford reach the O’Byrne Cup final, but Meath gained a measure of revenge for the previous years championship as they won their first trophy under Sean Boylan on a scoreline of 1-11 to 1-9. The u-21s again had a good run with wins over Westmeath and Kilkenny, but Kildare prevented three final appearances in a row with a 1-12 to 1-9 win.
GAA Centenary Year
1984 saw the GAA celebrate its centenary with a special knock-out competition. Longford faced Down and had a historic 1-9 to 0-11 win after extra time in Pearse Park. Galway were too strong in the second round winning 0-14 to 1-7. The championship started off with a tough trip to Wicklow, but Longford came away with a 4-4 to 1-9 win. The second round saw Longford face Offaly in a sun drenched Pearse Park. Longford were in a commanding position, but Offaly carved out a 0-15 to 1-12 draw. A game remembered for Matt Connor, but also that Offaly had to play the first half in the Clonguish jerseys. The replay was in Croke Park where Offaly won 3-15 to 3-10. Longford also saw Longford win promotion from division 4 of the league and face Kerry in the league quarter final. Longford went into a 1-3 to 0-0 lead in front of a huge home support, but Kerry showed their class and won 2-11 to 2-5.
Division 2 status retained
1985 was a year that promised much after the great performances of the year before, but Wexford proved too strong in the opening round of the championship. But league performances that year saw Longford go into the final game of the year against Cavan needing a win to gain promotion and a late Liam Tierney point saw Longford achieve the feat. This would set up a fixture with Dublin the following autumn and a famous win 3-8 to 1-11. The 1986 championship saw Longford lose out to Louth at senior level and Meath after a replay in the u-21, but a win against Wexford in the final round of the league, saw Longford retain their division 2 status.
1987 saw Longford face Louth again in the senior championship, and the men in red were again too strong. Despite good wins over Tyrone and Laois, Longford couldn’t maintain their league status. 1988 finally saw Longford get a championship run that the team was capable of with wins over Westmeath and Wicklow, but Dublin were to be too strong in the second half winning 4-15 to 0-9. 1988 again saw some excellent league performances and play off wins over Wexford and Limerick saw Longford reach the quarter final where Dublin won by 6 points. 1989 wasn’t as good on the championship front as Wicklow won by three points.
1980’s Club Overview
On the club scene, the start of the decade saw Slashers winning their second title in a row in 1980 followed by Clonguish in 1981 and Granard in 1982, before Cashel dominated with three titles in four years in 1983, 1984 & 1986. In the 1985 tie between Mostrim and Ardagh they needed three attempts with Mostrim eventually coming out on top. Ardagh and Killoe (bridging a 28 year gap) won the next two titles in 1987 & 1988 before Slashers won the final title of the decade. Intermediate titles went to Forgney, Legan, Connollys, Kenagh, Ballymahon, Abbeylara (2), Colmcille and two in a row to Connollys while junior titles went to Ballymore, Shroid, Longford Slashers, a first title for Grattans, Rathcline (2), Killashee (2), Moydow and Killoe (winning the Senior and Junior double in 1988).