Longwood GAA

Founded 1904

Co. Meath

Senior hurlers secure a point with courageous display

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Longwood secured their first point of this year’s senior hurling championship after an engrossing battle with neighbours Killyon.

The game took place on Boardsmill’s superbly presented pitch, the overnight rain and slippery surface only adding to the intensity of the battle. The earlier starting time of 11.00 gave players and supporters the opportunity to travel on to Croke Park to support the history-making Meath Ladies as they won back-to-back All Ireland titles in imperious style.

Longwood, who had suffered defeats in the opening two rounds, were intent on getting their campaign back on track and would surely have banked on a quick start. However, it did not materialise, and they found themselves trailing by 0-4 to 0-0 after the opening six minutes. Killyon had stretched their lead to six points before Ryan Moore scored Longwood’s opening point with a fine strike from long range.

Points from Mikie Mullen and the impressive Adam Gannon sandwiched an over from Anthony Healy to give Killyon a 0-8 to 0-2 advantage on the twenty-minute mark.

While the scoreboard was very much against them, it was becoming increasingly apparent that Longwood were getting a foothold in the game; winning the breaking ball and working tirelessly to support each other. The opening twenty minutes had allowed them to wash the dirty petrol out of the system and they were now firing on all cylinders. They began to dominate possession, and despite a number of wides, the scores followed. Seán Coloe, Mickey Burke, Ryan Moore (two) and Anthony Healy (two) all raised white flags as Longwood finished the half strongly. A pointed free from Mikie Mullen was all Killyon could muster in response. Still, it was enough to give them a one-point interval lead.

Half-time: Killyon 0-9 Longwood 0-8

Both sides started the second half somewhat sluggishly, exchanging a number of poor wides. The scoring drought was eventually broken by a Karl Ennis point from play. The teams were now level and all was up for grabs.

Longwood pushed for the lead, a soaring catch from Sean Coloe raised a huge cheer and the ball was eventually worked in to Damien Healy in the full forward line. Damo beat Adam Flanagan to the ball, turned and unleashed a goal bound shot that was deflected away by Killyon keeper, Stephen Quinn.

Little more than a minute later a long hopeful ball towards the Longwood goal broke and corner forward Cathal McKeon pounced on the loose ball and scrambled it to the net.

Mickey Burke, who showed tremendous leadership throughout, responded in style with an excellent long-range point. Seconds later, Killyon looked sure to score another goal only for Mark Kennedy to pull off a fantastic save from Stefan Kelly. But the dam did eventually burst; the ensuing sixty seconds saw Killyon tag on a point from Shane Clarke and a superb goal from Adam Gannon, the county star showing his undoubted class when flicking the ball past the onrushing keeper to the back of the net.

Just as had happened in the opening half, Longwood found themselves facing a six-point deficit. If they were looking for an opportunity to throw in the towel, it had arrived. Not a bit of it!

The Longwood boys rolled up their sleeves and continued to scratch and claw for every ball. Their collective will saw them take control and utterly dominate the final quarter. From the full back line out, they won their battles. Johnny Furey merits special mention as he put in an awesome performance, tackling a series of opponents with his typically tigerish determination.

Six consecutive points, each one greeted by a louder cheer, brought the teams level once again. Some of the scores, particularly those from Billy Hogan and Ryan Moore, were right out of the top drawer.

With only a couple of minutes remaining it seemed like there could only be one winner. But Killyon broke loose of the Longwood shackles and won a free which Mikie Mullen converted to put them in front once again.

Once again Longwood were down, once again they got to their feet. Anthony Healy showing nerves of steel to convert a 65 as the clock ticked past the hour.

The men in white summoned up one last effort, Sean Coloe securing possession before bursting through the Killyon rear-guard where he had his progress halted courtesy of a thinly disguised body check. To all Longwood fans and, I would wager, a significant number of Killyon fans, it looked a certain free in front of the goals. But to everyone’s amazement, the referee saw things differently and waved play on.

Seconds later the final whistle signalled the end of the game.

A game in which Longwood never led, yet it was hard not to feel that they were the better team. Admittedly Killyon had a couple of purple patches in the opening quarter and early in the second half but Longwood dominated large chunks of the game and a share of the spoils was the very least that they deserved.

While it is not a win, it does bring to an end a depressing run of defeats. The boys know there is much work to be done to secure their senior status but if yesterday is anything to go by, they are up for the fight!

Longwood: Mark Kennedy, Johnny Furey, Niall Mulvey, Ross Kerrigan, Joe Stenson, Mickey Burke (0-4), Paul Gill, Sean Coloe (0-1), Ryan Moore (0-4), Billy Hogan (0-1), Damien Healy, Gavin Griffith, Karl Ennis (0-1), Anthony Healy (0-6), Thomas Coloe. Subs: Cathal Campbell, Jim Dorran, Alan O’Toole

Next up sees our Intermediate Footballers make their championship debut for 2022 when they do battle with Drumbaragh on Saturday evening. Match details to follow during the week.

Maigh Dearmhaí abú!

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