Longford guaranteed their supporters another day out by securing a resounding win over a visiting Athy in the Provincial towns plate quarter final at CPL Park. Played on a mild afternoon with a strong wind that had a political feel to it, in that it could not make up its mind as to which direction it was blowing in.
The home side dominated throughout the contest stealing lineout, pushing well in the scrum and initiating attacks that challenged the adaptability of the visitors defence.
The first score came with just seven minutes elapsed when Cormack Hughes put in his first of a number of star turns in the fullback positions. His run scythed through a gap in the Athy defence before he passed back through the defending players to Joe McGowan. The winger crossed for the home side’s first score. Glynn sized up the kick and although kicking into the teeth of the wind squarely hit the mark.
With the score at 7-0 Athy’s reply was to push Longford back into their half. That period of pressure eventually yielded a penalty and thought the kick was in front of the posts at 38 metres out the swirling breeze stymied the effort.
The Kildare men continued to probe their way back into Longford territory, but carries from John Geelan, Benny McManus and Justin Ford all returned the favour. When an attacking maul was brought down a side entry infringement was penalised and converted by Glynn to leave it 10-00.
The next penalty option went to the visitors. Kicking for the line resulted in the visitors most threatening attack of the first 40. A penalty eight metres out was tapped quickly by the prop, but Longford tackling in the red zone resulted in a knock on that was gathered and cleared by McGowan. There followed line breaks by Robert Lee and McManus to pitched the Kildare men further back.
That momentum was capitalised on by Glynn when he went with a quick tap not far from the Athy line, this move was finished by McManus who touched down in the corner to leave it 15-00 in the 33 minute. As the half wound to a conclusion there was more scintillating runs by Hughes, Neil Farrell, Daniel McHugh, Barry Stewart and Kevin Rodgers.
From the restart Longford asserted themselves. An attack down the wing saw the dancing steps of McManus kept his feet out of touch, however his pass to Rodgers saw the hooker cut to the line, but the touch judge spotted a toe in touch.
The next score came as a result of a skip pass by Glynn who gave Hughes enough space to waltz through the defenders to bring the total to 20-00. More came when a line out ball off the top saw a sweeping run by Barry Stewart shatter the line. The flanker got his hands being the defender for a pop pass to Dylan Quinn who gathered at pace and scooted over the try line.
Glynn converted to leave it 27-00 and then the centre added another penalty to the haul to bring it to 30-00 three minutes later. An audacious attack by Robert Lee saw him cross the try line, but the defenders managed to hold him up in the corner. At the resultant five metre scrum Gallogly pick from the base and while Athy’s efforts were directed at manhandling him to the ground he got a pass off to Farrell who dived over to bring the score to 35-00.
Credit to Athy for not giving up. They may have been getting a bit fractious as the game drifted out, but Joey Carbury Sr side strung together a nice move to break their duck. A lineout in the Longford half, was followed by a good hands before their full back had space out wide to career past the flagging Longford defence. Unconverted the final score stood at 35-05.
Longford had a number of great contributions across the park on Sunday with Aaron Beirne and Shane Rodgers doing stalwart work in defence. This was a a good days rugby will now set up for a semi- final spot this coming Sunday. The venue will be decided by coin toss so Longford will have fingers and toes crossed that the next game will be in CPL Park.
Justin Ford, Kevin Rodgers, Dylan Quinn, Aaron Beirne, Benny McManus, John Geelan, Hubi Connelly, Barry Steward, Neal Farrell, Daniel McHughes, Eoin Bartley, Joe McGowan, Shane Rodgers, Colm Glynn, Joe McGowan, Cormack Hughes
Robert Lee, Paul Gallogly, Liam Brady, David Geelan and Niall Flynn