Longford weathered a strong challenge by Cill Dara to win through to the second round of the Provincial Towns Cup in CPL Park.
Cill Dara dominated the opening exchanges, the first ten minutes was played nearly exclusively in Longford’s half and it was Cill Dara who had the first shot at goal.
Although it had the distance, from in front of the posts on the Longford ten metre line it veered to the right and came off the upright for Longford to clear their lines.
Longford then came back into the game and had the best of the next 15 minutes, building the phases and gaining field position.
Cill Dara gave away two penalties in quick succession, which saw Longford kick for the corner.
From the lineout Longford knocked on and Cill Dara cleared their lines into touch. However, Joe McGowan took the resulting lineout quickly to Sean Flynn who made great ground.
It was carried on by Paul Gallogly and then put through the hands with Philly Dardis going over for an unconverted try wide on the left.
Longford were gaining a good deal of control at and applied most of the pressure for the next 10 minutes, which was converted into points on twenty-five minutes through the boot of Ryan McHugh giving Longford a 8-0 lead with 15 first-half minutes remaining.
Unfortunately, it was a Longford mistake that got Cill Dara back into the contest. On 31 minutes, Cill Dara turned over a Longford ruck on the home side’s 10-metre line, working their way up to the Longford 22.
Cill Dara’s Logan Nicholson put an enterprising chip over the top, regathered his kick and went over for a try beside the posts.
Nicholson then missed the conversion to leave Longford three points to the good.
Cill Dara came at Longford again and tacked on a penalty on 42 minutes to draw the scores 8-8. They nearly took the lead in injury time but failed to convert a final penalty which landed short.
Longford obviously had the words of Coach Glenn Baskett ringing in their ears as they came hard out of the second-half traps, immediately putting Cill Dara under pressure.
Longford forced a turn over and then a Cill Dara knock-on. From the resultant scrum Longford worked the phases making space out wide for Joe McGowan to go over under the posts.
After 52 minutes things went from bad to worse for Cill Dara when their inside centre took a trip to the bin for a no arms clear out.
Longford went for the jugular by kicking to the corner when a kick at goal might have been the more prudent option in a cup scenario.
The lineout went over the top and Cill Dara cleared their lines, to add insult to injury Longford knocked on the clearance.
This, which gave Cill Dara a platform from which they exerted considerable pressure for the next 10 minutes even though they were down to 14 players.
Try as Cill Dara might they could not breach Longford’s line even when kicking into the corner.
They missed a further attempt on goal on 58 minutes and after this period of pressure it was Longford who closed out the match with a try by Conor Seery.
Flanker Kieran O’Gorman made a great line break from the back of a ruck on the half way line, he offloaded to the on rushing Liam Brady who was stopped just short of the line.
Scrum-half Neal Farrell fed the ball out to Conor Seery who crashed over for a converted try to leave Longford in a commanding position with five minutes remaining.
Cill Dara kept on coming at Longford until the end, but ultimately Longford held on for a 15 point victory and a tie with Boyne in the second round on Sunday February 10th.
Longford: L Brady, P Dardis, D Quinn, B Stewart, B McManus, D Farrell, K O’Gorman, P Gallogly, N Farrell, I McCormack, C Seery, R McHugh, S Rodgers, J McGowan, S Flynn, J Forde, H Connolly, D O’Brien, D McHugh, F Davis.