Longford through to O'Byrne Cup final

Longford 1-16 DCU 0-10

Longford added a star-studded DCU side to their growing list of early season scalps as they won through to their first O'Byrne Cup final since 2003.

Brian Kavanagh (1-4) and Francis McGee (0-6) were the key men for Luke Dempsey's side as they accounted for the students in this afternoon's semi-final clash at Pearse Park.

Longford, the O'Byrne Shield winners from 12 months ago, will meet either Dublin or Carlow in next weekend's cup final.

A first-minute foul on Enda Farrell allowed McGee to kick the home side in front but although they soon built up a 0-3 to 0-1 lead, DCU largely had the better of the first half.

Mayo star Conor Mortimer, DCU's captain, led by example as he nabbed four points to help the university side go 0-7 to 0-4 in front.

Mortimer initially levelled before Kavanagh, who was being marked tightly by Paddy Andrews, the brother of former Dublin player Peadar Andrews, sent over his first two points, with the opener a free.

The DCU line-up included a number of players with inter-county experience, including midfielders Ronan Flanagan from Cavan and Monaghan's Dick Clerkin.

The visitors' full-forward line of Cavan's Seanie Johnston, Mortimer and David Kelly from Sligo would have sent shivers down most defenders' spines.

Colm Flynn, set up by another newcomer Stephen Phillips, grabbed Longford's fourth point but scores from Monaghan man Shane Smith, Roscommon's Cathal Cregg, Flanagan and Mortimer put three points between the sides at 0-7 to 0-4.

Crucially, the impressive McGee cut the gap to the minimum - 0-7 to 0-6 - by the interval as he landed a brace of injury-time frees.

Drawing on the confidence built up from their recent wins over Kildare and Meath, Longford seized control of the game during the early part of the second half.

Paddy Dowd levelled the game at 0-7 apiece for the hosts who brough on Paul Barden for the second half. Barden was a surprise introduction given that he has been nursing an injury of late.

DCU and in particular Mortimer was shut out of the game as Longford really took over and kept the students scoreless until Johnston raised a white flag coming up to the hour mark.

Longford captain Liam Keenan helped kick off his side's dominant spell as he teed up McGee for a great right-footed score, Shane Mulligan followed suit and Barden had a goal ruled out when he fouled DCU net minder Philip Brogan before the ball went over the line.

Kavanagh then came into his own, hitting a devastating 1-2 in the space of four minutes. The Ardagh youngster pointed a free, then boomed over a brilliant point from play from far out and his goal followed in the 54th-minute.

Barden spotted the 21-year-old's run and Kavanagh did well to collect the ball, turn his man and slam home past Brogan and hand Longford a double scores lead.

Two more points from McGee and Arthur O'Connor followed before Johnston belatedly replied for DCU. His Cavan colleague Flanagan then tagged on another point for the students.

But any hope the 2006 Sigerson Cup champions had of making a comeback diminished when, after trading points with Keenan, Mortimer kicked a late penalty to the right and wide of Damien Sheridan's goal.

Longford raced up the field to grab two more points against a now deflated DCU outfit. Substitute Peter Masterson found the target and McGee landed a final free from just inside the 45-metre line to crown another good day at the office for Dempsey's men.


Longford: Brian Kavanagh 1-4 (0-1f), Francis McGee 0-6 (0-5f), Colm Flynn, Paddy Dowd, Shane Mulligan, Arthur O'Connor, Liam Keenan, Peter Masterson 0-1 each

DCU: Conor Mortimer 0-5 (0-2f), Ronan Flanagan 0-2, Shane Smith, Cathal Cregg, Seanie Johnston 0-1 each

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