Seven points from midfielder Paddy Lynam, and some crucial saves from keeper Pat Burke, helped Longford to an eight-point victory over Lancashire at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in this Allianz National Hurling League Division 3B clash, with the home side winning by 0-18 to 0-10.
After twelve minutes, Longford trailed by four points to two, but five unanswered points put the Midlanders ahead by seven points to four by the twenty-first minute. Two Paddy Lynam frees, and a point each from Reuben Murray, Dan Crossan, and Ronan Sheahan put Longford in control and they never really looked back after that.
However, things could have been different only for Longford Keeper Pat Burke, who produced a stunning save from Shane Madden on twenty-six minutes, after the latter had been put through on goal by a clever David Burke pass. Madden’s fifteen-yard rocket was magnificently deflected over the bar by the Longford stopper to prevent Lancashire from scoring a goal.
Following that lucky escape for the home side, they finished the half strongly by adding four more points without reply courtesy of another three Lynam points (two from frees), and a point from Reuben Murray to lead by 0-11 to 0-05 at the interval.
The English side were reduced to fourteen players around the forty-seventh minute mark when Conor Kennedy was shown a straight red card after an over exuberant challenge. Longford were nine points up at that stage leading by 0-14 to 0-05 and were in complete control of the contest.
Longford then built up a ten-point cushion on fifty-eight minutes when Charles Flynn pointed, before a Lancashire late rally reduced the deficit back to just six points, with Shane Madden scoring three points and Darragh Carroll firing over the bar as well.
However, a brace of points from Cathal Mullane in stoppage time sealed the two points for Longford and their second win on the bounce.
Cavan’s four-point win over Leitrim on Sunday means that the Breffni County are straight into the final, with Leitrim and Longford, who meet this Saturday in Drumshanbo, both qualifying for the semi-final in two weeks’ time. Home advantage in the semi-final will go to the winner of Saturday’s game.
Longford: Pat Burke , Johnny Casey, Karl Murray, Daire Regan, Adam Quinn, Eamon Allen, Iarlaith Dolan, Charles Flynn (0-02), Paddy Lynam (0-07, 6f), Reuben Murray (0-04), David Buckley, Rory Maher, Cathal Mullane (0-03), Evan Tully, Ronan Sheahan (0-01).
Substitutions: Dan Crossan (0-01) for Buckley (8 minutes), Matthew Hawes for Regan (55 minutes), Liam Browne for Sheahan (59 minutes), Francie Dolan for Maher (68 minutes).
Lancashire: Pa Coates, Liam Burns, Padraig Mallon, Conor McCormick, Cormac Kenny, Shane Nugent, Andrew Morgan, Darragh Carroll (0-01), Finn Henry, Dermott Duffy , Eoghan Kelly , David Burke (0-02,1f) , Shane Madden (0-06, 2f) , Conor Kennedy , Eamon Kearns (0-01).
Substitutions: Stephen Grace for Duffy (half-time), Brian Slattery for Morgan (45 minutes), Paddy Heffernan for Henry (55 minutes), Fergal Murphy for Burns, & Phil Shine for Kenny (both 56 minutes).
Photo: Syl Healy