Longford beat Dublin in an extra-time thriller to secure Leinster minor crown

A series of missed goal chances on the Dublin side were a key factor, but Longford still had to show incredible character

Leinster MFC: Longford 0-15 Dublin 1-10

Any Leinster championship title for Longford is invariably special, but Monday’s incredible fare in Tullamore will be treasured for a long time after the smallest county in the province secured a thrilling extra-time victory over Dublin.

A series of missed goal chances on the Dublin side were a key factor, but Longford still had to show incredible character in a game where they scored the opening point and then never led again until the second half of overtime.

In between, captain Mark Cooney saved their bacon with a stunning 48 metre free off the ground in second half stoppage time, but it was the least that they deserved for a showing that was full of heart and energy throughout.

After winning the round robin game between the two sides, there was no fear factor in Longford’s performance at any stage, but they still left themselves in a hole early on when Senan Bolger tapped in a close range goal after Donach Magee’s initial effort was parried by James Ross in the Longford goal.

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Their response was excellent with a series of strong runs forward and some outstanding scores from Alan Mimnagh and James Hagan, but the cracks started to appear as Dublin’s athleticism and ball handling saw them move through the lines and create chances of their own.

Rían Doherty’s dead ball accuracy helped make it 1-4 to 0-3 at half-time, but it could have been much more devastating as Bolger pulled one chance wide, Ross saved another from Doherty, and Charlie Loughran couldn’t quite gather a pass that was bobbling away from him with just the keeper to beat.

That trend continued in the second half, but still it looked as if Dublin would see it out, ahead by three points with just over ten minutes remaining.

Longford’s character started to come to the fore however with Ben Blessington sending over a haymaker, Luke Doherty striking well and captain Mark Cooney playing the hero with an outstanding free-kick to send the game to overtime.

Again Dublin looked to have the upper hand early with points from substitutes Finn Costello and Cillian McCabe, but Liam Greene crowned a wonderful team move to reduce the gap to one by the turnaround, and for the last ten minutes, Longford were rampant. Mark Cooney and Conor McHugh continued to lord it in defence, Cian O’Donnell kicked two wonder points and the 2,000 strong crowd exploded into life when Karl O’Hara capitalised on Hagan’s good work to clinch a memorable win with the last attack of the game.

Longford: J Ross; C McHugh, D Mulligan, A Mimnagh (0-1); C Doherty, M Cooney (0-1, free), B Blessington (0-1); S Fagan, P Farrell; C Flynn (0-1), C O’Donnell (0-2), J Shannon; J Hagan (0-3, two frees), J Marsh, L Donnelly (0-3).

Subs: O Kane for Flynn (24 mins), K O’Hara (0-2) for O’Donnell (37), K Hudson for Shannon (47), M Glennon for Mimnagh (56), C O’Donnell for Marsh (56), C Flynn for Farrell (full-time), L Greene (0-1) for Kane (66), J Marsh for Fagan (80).

Dublin: F McDonnell; J O’Keeffe, D O’Sullivan, S Devane; J Kennedy, F McGinnis, R Ennis (0-1); C Gavin, K Costello; C Loughran (0-1), S Bolger (1-0), D Magee; D McGill, F Lydon, R Doherty (0-6, five frees).

Subs: F Costello (0-1) for Gavin (37 mins), C McCabe (0-1) for Lydon (39), E O’Donovan for Devane (51), C Gavin for Costello (67), J McNair for Ennis (half-time in ET), H O’Neill for Doherty (half-time in ET), S Devane for Kennedy (79).

Referee: Darragh Byrne (Wicklow)

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