Those in attendance in Boardsmill on Saturday evening certainly could not complain about the lack of entertainment on offer. Despite the high stakes, both teams served up an open, yet keenly contested game of football. This will be of little consolation to the Longwood contingent as, despite a much-improved performance, they came out on the wrong side of the scoreline.
Playing well but not getting over the line has become a familiar theme throughout the championship and one that will have to change if they are to play Intermediate football again in 2024.
The scoreboard operators had a busy evening, and they were put to work as early as the first minute; firstly, Bective kicked a point on 41 seconds before Longwood equalised just fifteen seconds later. Sean Coloe plucked the kick-out from the skies, transferred the ball quickly to younger brother Thomas who kicked a fine point.
This should have settled Longwood but instead it was Bective who grabbed the initiative, scoring four consecutive points over the following ten minutes to take a 0-5 to 0-1 lead.
Longwood needed a foothold in the game, and it arrived in the shape of a Billy Hogan goal. The young Meath goalkeeper has contributed handsomely as an outfield player for his club this season and, not for the first time in this year’s championship, he raised a green flag with a powerful right-footed shot which gave the Bective keeper no chance. Sean Coloe kicked a fine point, the first of his six, to draw the sides level.
A pointed free edged Bective ahead before Longwood enjoyed their finest spell of the game, kicking four points from play without reply. Ryan Moore got the ball rolling with a beautiful point and this was embellished by an Anthony Healy point and two more from the marauding Coloe.
Longwood were now three points clear with half-time looming. And then came the crucial turning point - Bective cutting through the Longwood defence twice in quick succession, scoring two goals in less then two minutes. Another Bective free extended the margin and Longwood had seen a three point lead turn into a four point deficit. An excellent Ryan Moore free and a fourth point from Sean Coloe arrested the onslaught and the gap was just reduced to a seemingly manageable two points at the break.
Half-time: Bective 2-7 Longwood 1-8
The opening ten minutes of the second half were very cagey with both teams registering just a solitary point. The killer blow arrived soon after when Bective scored their third and final goal. It was somewhat fortuitous given that the initial shot looked destined for Harry Hogan’s gloves until a cruel deflection diverted it past the helpless keeper.
Sean Coloe, never one to wave the white flag, continued to carry the fight and kicked his fifth and sixth points over the following five minutes. A savage contribution from a player who was struggling with a serious chest infection all week and was a major doubt right up until the pre-game warm up.
The teams exchanged points over the final ten minutes but, try as they might, Longwood could not manufacture the goal that may have triggered a late turnaround. A last gasp penalty from Ryan Moore was well saved by the Bective netminder but in truth, it would have been a mere consolation score as the final whistle followed soon after.
Full-time: Bective 3-13 Longwood 1-14
Longwood: Harry Hogan, Kevin Maguire, Niall Mulvey, Adam Leacy, Ciaran Sheridan, Ross Kerrigan, Fearghal O’Hare, Bob Maguire, Sean Coloe (0-6), Sean Sheridan, Ryan Moore (0-5), Thomas Coloe (0-1), Karl Ennis, Anthony Healy (0-1), Billy Hogan (1-1). Subs: Aaron Ennis for Anthony Healy, Cathal Campbell for Kevin Maguire, Anthony Healy for Sean Sheridan, Sam Dixon, David Coloe, Louis Butler, Coyle O’Brien.
While Longwood’s players and management can take some positives from the fact that the game represented a significant improvement on their previous outing against Drumbaragh, at this stage of the season, performance is of little or no consequence, it is all about the result. Thankfully the boys have one more chance when they take on Dunderry in a do-or-die relegation play-off in a couple of weeks.
Both teams will be approaching the game from a similar position, and both will be well aware that a win will ensure all the previous heartache and disappointment will be quickly forgotten. The stakes could scarcely be higher. Maigh Dearmhaí abú!