Longford kept their promotion plans on track with a 32-10 win over Carlow in Oak Park yesterday, writes Tommy Butler.
Coming into the weekend Longford were in fourth place with a match in hand on third placed Carlow and second placed Tullow.
Longford had a point to prove as their visit to Carlow last year resulted in a comprehensive defeat in their worst display of last season and one that derailed their title hopes.
This was must win match for Longford and one in which they delivered in spades.
Longford opened the scoring via the boot of Ryan McHugh on 15 minutes after Carlow were pinged for hands in the ruck.
10 minutes later disaster struck for the visitor’s as a loose pass in the centres by the away side, resulted in a Carlow interception.
The home side went in under the posts for a converted try to leave Longford four points behind.
The men in black and white were not cowed and came straight back scoring a try of their own on 33 minutes, quick ruck ball was used to great advantage when Cormac Hughes went over for a unconverted try.
Four minutes before half-time saw a game changing moment. The Carlow scrum-half was shown a straight red for a stamp on Longford flanker Barry Stewart.
The sending-off initially galvanised Carlow who struck again just before half-time with a penalty and Longford hooker Hubie Connolly received a yellow card for slowing down an attempted quick tap penalty.
Carlow led 10-8 at half-time, but with Longford going to have a one man advantage for most of the second half.
Longford began the second-half in determined fashion, clearly trying to generate quicker ruck ball to exploit the space out wide afforded by Carlow being down a man.
Carlow didn’t make it easy for Longford. Nevertheless, it was the away side who gradually assumed control.
Eventually, Longford’s pressure told with an interception try from Barry Stewart on 49 minutes, which was converted by Ryan McHugh to put Longford into a 5-10 lead.
Longford soon extended the lead with a Ryan McHugh penalty with Longford starting to really get on top.
One of the best moves of the game saw out-half Colm Glynn ping a great cross field kick across to 18-year-old wing Daithi Connolly (brother of hooker Hubie) in the Carlow 22, who gathered well and crossed for a converted try under the posts.
This galvanised Carlow back into action and it was only great defence from Kolo Kiripati, Captain Benny McManus and Kieran O’Gorman who kept them at bay.
In spite of this, the cherry on the cake for Longford was a fourth bonus point try on 74 minutes.
Scrum-half Neal Farrell made a line break who fed the on rushing Ryan McHugh who broke up the field and put away wing Joe McGowan for a try under the posts to leave the final score 10-32 in Longford’s favour and most importantly all still to play for in the league with a visit to Cill Dara on next weeks’ agenda.
Longford: P O’Farrell, H Connolly, D Quinn, Aaron Beirne, B McManus (C), B Stewart, K O’Gorman, K Kiripati, N Farrell, C Glynn, J McGowan, I McCormack, C Hughes, D Connolly, R McHugh, L Brady, P Dardis, Andrew Beirne, John Geelan & S Murphy.