A great contest was seen at Abbeylara as Meath came out winners against Longford in the Hastings Cup Final after extra time, 3-10 – 1-13.
It was a game which saw very little bit the sides with the score line going into half time seeing Meath lead 1-05 to 1-04.
Longford got off to a great start when Rian Brady was fouled in the Meath square before Nigel Rabbitte slotted the ball past the keeper and into the net.
The Royals responded well and levelled matters with three points on the spin through Conor Moriarty and the outstanding David McLoughlin with two. Longford hit back with three points of their own with David McGivney hitting over two and Conor Berry also pointing one.
Thomas O’Reilly and McLoughlin narrowed the gap before Conor Moriarty netted for the Royals to put them in front for the first time. McGivney sent over his third point to leave the minimum in it at the break.
Longford came out at half time much better as they found themselves 1-7 to 1-6 in front after ten minutes. As both teams began to empty their subs bench O’Reilly levelled the game after 15 minutes.
Rabbitte and Robbie Clarke, with his first touch, put Longford two up with ten minutes remaining and Meath looked in trouble. McLoughlin steadied his team with a wonderful goal after great work by substitute Eamon Mac Donnacha and O’Reilly. Sean Reilly followed this up with a good point and Meath were two up going in to the final minutes.
This game was far from over as Longford showed a fighting character to come back, Conor Farrell narrowed the gap and with the last kick of the half midfielder and captain Shane Kenny pointed a 45 to send the game into extra time. Meath 2-8 Longford 1-11.
The home county were guilty of some bad wides in the opening period of extra time. O’Reilly put Meath in front after a lengthy stop to deal with an injury to Longford full back Ronan Sweeney. Longford hit back and scores from Kenny and Russell Brady gave them a narrow 1-13 to 2-9 lead at the break.
Brady’s fine point proved to be their last score. David McLoughlin found the Longford net five minutes into the second period. O’Reilly added a point to finally break the Longford resilience and the Hastings Cup was heading to Meath.
What will worry Longford manager Frank McNamee after the game is the loss of full back Ronan Sweeney who picked up a serious ankle injury and had to be stretchered off.
Frank spoke to our reporter John Duffy after the game:
Longford scorers: Nigel Rabbitte 1-2, David McGivney 0-5, Shane Kenny 0-2, Conor Berry, Robbie Clarke, Conor Farrell and Russell Brady 0-1
Meath scorers: David McLoughlin 2-3, Conor Moriarty 1-2, Thomas O’Reilly 0-4, Sean Reilly 0-1
Longford: Conor Gallagher, James Mooney, Ronan Sweeney, Kevin Sorohan, Cian Brady, Dessie Reynolds, Russell Brady, David McGivney, Shane Kenny, Conor Berry, Nigel Rabbitte, Peter Lynn, Rian Brady, Daragh Doherty, Jason Matthews. Subs: Conor Farrell, Barry McKiernan, Robbie Clarke, Eoin Higgins, Aidan McElligott. Extra time: Enda Macken
Meath: Jonathan Lynch, James Reilly, Eoghan Greene. Robin Clarke, James Mooney, Daniel O’Neill, Sean Noonan, Sean Reilly, Brian Conlon, David McEntee, Conor Moriarty, Ethan Devine, Darragh Campion, Thomas O’Reilly, David McLoughlin. Subs: Eoin Smyth for Darragh Campion (black card), Fionn Reilly, Jason Scully, Eamonn O’Donnacha. Extra time: Cathal McConnell, Cian Devlin, Brian McGrath.
Referee: Sean Carroll Westmeath