Longford take on Warwickshire in their second match of this year’s Lory Meagher Cup Championship at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park this Sunday at 2pm.
In last weekend’s opening matches, Warwickshire, who finished bottom and pointless in Division 3B of the Allianz National Hurling League, pulled off a major shock with victory over the Division 3B Champions Cavan in Birmingham last Sunday.
When the two sides met in the league at Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan eased to an eleven-point victory and were hot favourites to win their Lory Meagher clash, but Warwickshire hurled brilliantly to lead by seven points at half-time.
Despite a Canice Maher inspired comeback that saw Cavan level the contest in injury time at the end of the match, a goal from a free from Jack Grealish deep into stoppage time helped the English side to a two-point victory, 3-15 to 0-22.
Jack Grealish top-scored for the Exiles with 2-07, while Luke Hands scored 1-05. Kevin Murphy with 0-02 and Alex Hanley with a point completed their scoring, while Canice Maher top-scored for Cavan with 0-13.
Twenty-four hours earlier at the same Páirc na hÉireann venue, Longford also suffered defeat to Lancashire, with the English side winning by seven points, 3-21 to 2-17.
Longford had won the league encounter between the sides at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park by eight points, but Lancashire started a much stronger starting fifteen, while Longford were weakened by injuries.
Lancashire were seven points up at the break with goals from Ray McCormack and Darragh Carroll putting them in control, and they stretched that out to a nine-point advantage by the forty-sixth minute. On two occasions, Longford had got back to within five points of Lancashire, but despite goals from substitutes David Buckley & Reuben Murray, the Exiles were fully deserving of their win with Darragh Carroll scoring his second goal just after the hour mark. Cathal Mullane was Longford’s Chief scorer with 0-10.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game, the Longford manager Adrian Moran expressed his disappointment about the loss to Lancashire.
‘It’s very disappointing to come away from the trip to England with nothing, but we got off to a very poor start and we were very sluggish in the opening half, and that left us with too much work to do in the second-half, and we paid the price for it. We did get back to within five points a couple of times, and on one of those occasions, we had a goal disallowed for a questionable square ball, and when that went against us, they pushed on and got a few unanswered points which mentally drained our lads, and effectively ended the game.’
Regarding the injury front, John Mulhern is still a few weeks away from being able to play, and realistically will probably not be back until the last two games against Cavan and Monaghan, while Michéal Mulcahy suffered an injury reoccurrence at a recent training session and will miss the rest of the season. David Buckley & Reuben Murray were introduced in the second-half and had a big impact and should both be fit to start on Sunday. Adrian acknowledged that it was a gamble playing Buckley who was not fully fit, but it was the right decision to make and the Killashee resident put in a brilliant display.
‘Sometimes, the game reaches a stage where you have to throw all your cards on the table, and that is what we did, and although it didn’t work in terms of the result, they both played well when introduced and gained some valuable match time. David was the bigger gamble injury wise, but he did superbly. It’s a massive game for us this weekend and we need to get off to a good start, which we have failed to do in several games so far this season and that has left us with a lot of work to do coming up to half-time, so we need to get that aspect of our game right against Warwickshire. We are still very positive about our prospects of getting to Croke Park this year, and we reminded the lads that we lost our opening match to Leitrim last year and still reached the Lory Meagher Final. We have to be more clinical as we missed some good chances last week. We know where we made the mistakes and what we need to do to prevent them from happening again. The players are working extremely hard and hopefully they will get their rewards on Sunday.’