Limerick’s footballers commenced their maiden Tailteann Cup campaign with a hard-earned success over Longford at TUS Gaelic Grounds on Saturday evening.
The group phase, which sees Limerick face Carlow (away) and Wicklow (neutral) in the coming weeks, will see two sides guaranteed to progress. The best three third-placed sides will also progress, therefore an opening round success was paramount for Mark Fitzgerald’s side.
The victory foundation was laid by an early Cathal Downes goal, picking out the top corner after Colm McSweeney spotted his run.
Limerick led 1-8 to 0-7 at half-time with Peter Nash with the pick of the scores. At the other end, there was four neat points from Dylan Farrell, including a free from outside the Limerick 45m line. James Naughton scored three of his four first half-frees, while Paul Maher chipped in with a point.
Limerick wouldn’t be headed in the second half and strengthened their position with a second green flag. Longford centre-back Michael Quinn handled the ball on the ground inside the square before Brian Donovan buried the resultant penalty.
The Monaleen man clipped over two points in a decent second half for him, but Longford didn’t go away. Points from Farrell, Oran Kenny and Liam Connerton kept the contest alive, while Daniel Reyonlds netted in stoppage time, to make it a two point game – 2-15 to 1-16.
But the final say went to the returning Tommy Griffin, who, with the outside of the boot, split the posts to secure a first win for Limerick since January’s McGrath Cup hammering of Waterford. The team were on a 10 game run without a win, with just one draw with Meath to show for their season thus far.
Scorers for Limerick: James Naughton 0-6 (0-5 frees);Brian Donovan 1-2; Cathal Downes 1-1; Peter Nash 0-2; Colm McSweeney, Paul Maher, Hugh Bourke, Cian Sheehan (mark), Tommy Griffin 0-1 each.
Scorers for Longford: D Farrell 0-7 (0-5 frees); O Kenny 0-3 (0-1 free); Daniel Reynolds 1-0; L Connerton, J Hagan 0-2 each; R Moffett, K McGann 0-1 each.
Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan (C); Mike Donovan, Seán O’Dea, Brian Fanning; Barry Coleman, Jim Liston, Paul Maher; Cillian Fahy, Cathal Downes; Cian Sheehan, Brian Donovan, Adrian Enright; James Naughton, Colm McSweeney, Peter Nash.
Subs: Hugh Bourke for Liston (46), Tony McCarthy for Donovan (56), Darragh Murray for Enright (63), Tommy Griffin for Downes (68), Davy Lyons for Nash (69), David Connolly for O’Dea (76).
Longford: Patrick Collum; Patrick Fox, Andrew Farrell, Bryan Masterson; Iarla O’Sullivan, Michael Quinn, Peter Lynn; Ryan Moffett, Keelin McGann; Joe Hagan, Dessie Reynolds, Aaron Farrell; Liam Connerton, Dylan Farrell, Oran Kenny.
Subs: Jack Macken for A Farrell (52), Daniel Reynolds for Connerton (62), Peter Foy for Lynn (65).
Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary).