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Longford claim Dioralyte O’Byrne Cup

January 20th, 2024

Dioralyte O’Byrne Cup senior football final


By Paul Keane at MW Hire O’Moore Park, Portlaoise

A little piece of history was made in the midlands as Longford retained the Dioralyte O’Byrne Cup football title for the very first time in their history.

Coming up against his native Dublin, whom he once captained, Longford manager Paddy Christie put sentiment to one side and beamed afterwards as his side braved the difficult conditions to secure a six-point win and a fifth title for the county.

Keelin McGann’s 44th minute goal was significant as it put Longford seven points ahead at that stage and they never looked in any great trouble after that.

Experienced midfielder Darren Gallagher and Man of the Match Cathal McCabe, in his first campaign, weighed in with seven points between them too.

Longford supporters will hope that the win is a good omen as they return to Portlaoise next Saturday to play Laois in a crucial National League Division 4 encounter.

As for Dublin, the All-Ireland title holders were largely in experimental mode with just five players – goalkeepers David O’Hanlon and Evan Comerford and attackers Niall Scully, Colm Basquel and Brian O’Leary – who had previously played in the Championship.

Aside from that, manager Dessie Farrell was in experimental mode and it will be a much stronger team that takes to the field against Monaghan in Round 1 of their Division 1 campaign next Saturday.

Farrell said beforehand that the result was almost immaterial as he sought to run the rule over as many new players as possible before the league and he will surely have been pleased with the offerings of Killian McGinnis, Liam Smith, Luke Breathnach, Sean Lowry and Senan Forker throughout the three-game campaign.

Basquel’s involvement for the first time in the campaign brought the number of Dublin players to feature in this year’s competition to 27.

Farrell drafted in goalkeeper Evan Comerford, Basquel and wing-forward Conor Dolan into his lineup. Otherwise it was the same dozen that lined out in last weekend’s 5-17 to 1-11 semi-final demolition of Wexford.

Longford went with 13 of the team that overcame Meath by a goal in an Ashbourne arm wrestle. The hugely experienced Mickey Quinn dropped down to the bench for the midlands outfit while captain Paddy Fox and corner-forward Daniel Reynolds came back into the team.

With next weekend’s league opener in mind, there was a significant blow for Longford in the 24th minute when key attacker Daniel Mimnagh was taken off with an injury.

Things looked better on the scoreboard at least as they led by 0-4 to 0-3 at that stage and stretched the gap to three points by the half-hour, 0-6 to 0-3.

McCabe and midfield free-taker Gallagher scored a brace of points apiece in that initial period.

They were fortunate to lead though as Dublin failed to convert three separate goal opportunities that came their way in the first 12 minutes.

Lowry, fresh off a hat-trick of goals against Wexford, had an early shot blocked by defender Ryan Moffett. Three minutes later, Comerford and Forker combined to play in Kevin Lahiff but his shot was saved by goalkeeper Patrick Collum.

Forker himself smashed a shot off the woodwork in the 12th minute as Dublin supporters who made the trip south began to wonder if it was going to be one of those days.

Longford had a decent goal chance that went abegging too, Jayson Matthews blasting straight at Comerford when running in from the left in the 18th minute.

Late Longford points before half-time from Daniel Reynolds and Mark Hughes left them sitting pretty at half-time with a 0-8 to 0-3 lead.

But there was one giant caveat – Longford had a near gale force wind behind them in the first-half. It was raining heavily too, all of which they would have to contend with in the second-half.

O’Hanlon, who started last year’s Championship campaign for Dublin before being replaced by Stephen Cluxton, came on for the second-half along with corner-back Ben Millist and corner-forward Breathnach.

The hope was that Breathnach could work the same magic he did last weekend when he blasted 1-4 against Wexford.

The Ballinteer man only needed three minutes to get on the scoreboard and register a point.

McGinnis struck shortly after for his second Dublin point but the game turned in the 44thminute when McGann hit that killer goal for Longford.

Joseph Hagan created it with a clever ball down the line to McCabe and when his marker Millist slipped, McCabe strode free and set up McGann who still had to round the ‘keeper.

Midfielder Daire Duggan added a point soon after and suddenly Longford were in the driving seat with a 1-10 to 0-5 lead.

Dublin refused to throw in the towel and edged the final quarter by 0-4 to 0-2 on the scoreboard but they needed a goal and one never arrived.

Longford scorers: Darren Gallagher 0-4 (0-4f), Keelin McGann 1-0, Cathal McCabe 0-3 (0-1m), Joseph Hagan 0-2, Daniel Reynolds 0-1, Mark Hughes 0-1, Daire Duggan 0-1.

Dublin scorers: Killian McGinnis 0-3 (0-2f), Luke Breathnach 0-2, Brian O’Leary 0-1 (0-1f), Niall Scully 0-1, Luke Swan 0-1 (0-1f), Colm Basquel 0-1 (0-1f).

Longford: Paddy Collum; Barry O’Farrell, Oisin O’Toole, Bryan Masterson; Paddy Fox, Ryan Moffett, Iarla O’Sullivan; Darren Gallagher, Daire Duggan; Keelin McGann, Daniel Reynolds, Joseph Hagan; Jayso Matthews, Daniel Mimnagh, Cathal McCabe.

Subs: Mark Hughes for Mimnagh 24, Michael Quinn for Reynolds 47, Ruairi Harkin for McGann 71, Darragh Finlass for Matthews 73.

Dublin: Evan Comerford; Eoin O’Dea, Liam Howley, Liam Smith; Alex Gavin, Senan Forker, Kevin Lahiff; Peter Duffy, Ethan Dunne; Conor Dolan, Niall Scully, Killian McGinnis; Colm Basquel, Brian O’Leary, Sean Lowry.

Subs: Luke Breathnach for Dolan, David O’Hanlon for Comerford and Ben Millist for O’Dea all h/t, Eoghan O’Connor Flanagan for Howley & Eoin Wilde for O’Leary 59, Luke Swan for Duffy 60, Kieran McKeown for Lahiff 67.

Referee: James Foley (Carlow).

Carlow GAA
Dublin GAA
Kildare GAA
Kilkenny GAA
Laois GAA
Longford GAA
Louth GAA
Meath GAA
Offaly GAA
Westmeath GAA
Wexford GAA
Wicklow GAA