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Friday 22 November 2019

Minors a 'Long' way from title

Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Shield final: Longford 3-15 Wexford 2-5

The Wexford squad. Back (from left): Shane Kehoe, Rúairí O’Brien, Jason Bolger, Joe Curtis, Paul Deeny, Jack O’Leary (capt.), Liam Crowley, Eamonn Doyle, Eoin Foley, Conall McGuinness, Jason Murphy, Brian Cushe, Tom Kavanagh. Front (from left): Tiarnan Malone, Oisín Waters, Rory O’Connor, Ryan Connolly, Rory Tubritt, Aodhán Byrne, Liam Doyle, Leigh Newport, Paddy Darcy
The Wexford squad. Back (from left): Shane Kehoe, Rúairí O’Brien, Jason Bolger, Joe Curtis, Paul Deeny, Jack O’Leary (capt.), Liam Crowley, Eamonn Doyle, Eoin Foley, Conall McGuinness, Jason Murphy, Brian Cushe, Tom Kavanagh. Front (from left): Tiarnan Malone, Oisín Waters, Rory O’Connor, Ryan Connolly, Rory Tubritt, Aodhán Byrne, Liam Doyle, Leigh Newport, Paddy Darcy

Alan Aherne in Portlaoise

The writing was on the wall for the Wexford Minor footballers in Wednesday's Electric Ireland Leinster shield final in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, at a very early stage, with holders Longford signalling their intent to retain the Seamus Heaney Cup with five points inside six minutes.

The Slaneysiders were then gifted a goal which clearly helped them settle, but that initial gap remained intact at half-time when they trailed by 1-9 to 1-4.

A second well-worked Longford goal just 24 seconds into the new period ensured it was game, set and match for the superior midlanders, even though Wexford did rattle the net again themselves from a penalty.

There was a six-point gap during 16 scoreless minutes, with the poor standard a reflection of the fact that this was a contest to determine the seventh- and eighth-place finishers from the twelve championship contestants.

Wexford never really looked like getting the third goal they needed to make a game of it in that period, save for one instance when Rory O'Connor channelled the soccer skills of his first cousin, Thomas, a professional with Southampton, with a first-time shot after a Liam Doyle solo and cross that was comfortably saved.

Longford hadn't been convincing at the other end either, but they did get their act together from the 58th minute onwards, adding 1-4 without reply to finish with a handsome 13 points to spare.

Wexford didn't get the ball beyond midfield before their rivals kicked their four opening points, with joint captain Keelin McGann and targetman Tiernan Hussey quickly emerging as the main threats up front.

Rory Tubritt had to pull off a decent save to deny overlapping wing-back Ciarán Scanlon a goal during that spell, and McGann made it 0-5 to nil before Wexford were thrown a lifeline.

A Liam Doyle delivery hopped in the square in the tenth minute and, after it was fumbled by netminder Conor Skelly, team captain Jack O'Leary was on hand to tap home from close range.

Paul Deeny made it a one-point game with a good score from distance, but Longford never lost their lead and a cracking goal helped them to that 1-9 to 1-4 interval advantage.

It arrived in the 25th minute, with Keelin McGann playing a one-two with midfielder Connor Leonard and bursting down the middle before planting the ball in the roof of Tubritt's net.

O'Leary had registered the second and third Wexford points from frees, with number four arriving from wing-back Shane Kehoe in the 30th minute.

His fellow defender on the opposite wing, Ryan Connolly, departed on a black card, and there was no realistic chance of a comeback after Longford's second goal inside half a minute on the re-start.

The two most dangerous attackers combined, with Tiernan Hussey sending a long crossfield ball that was caught by Keelin McGann in between two Wexford defenders.

A wide gap in front of him was waiting to be exposed, and he bore down on goal before beating Rory Tubritt with a cool finish (2-9 to 1-4).

Aaron Farrell and Hussey added points before Liam Doyle pulled one back from a Jack O'Leary pass, and the second Wexford goal came from the spot in the twelfth minute.

The latter hit the net for the fourth time in this five-game campaign, after a dangerous run from the left by substitute Oisín Waters led to a high challenge on Rory O'Connor (2-11 to 2-5).

Rather than giving the team a collective lift, it proved to be their last score, meaning that the one-point win away to Carlow in the shield semi-final was the only victory for this crew in 2019.

Wexford: Rory Tubritt (Naomh Eanna); Leigh Newport (Our Lady's Island), Brian Cushe (Naomh Eanna), Eamonn Doyle (Ballyhogue); Ryan Connolly (Naomh Eanna), Paddy Darcy (Kilanerin), Shane Kehoe (Cloughbawn, 0-1); Paul Deeny (Volunteers, 0-1), Tom Kavanagh (Castletown); Liam Crowley (St. Fintan's), Rory O'Connor (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Liam Doyle (Ballyhogue, 0-1); Rúairí O'Brien (Adamstown), Jack O'Leary (St. Fintan's, capt., 2-2, 1-0 pen., 0-2 frees), Tiarnan Malone (Shelmaliers). Subs. - Jason Bolger (Kilanerin) for Connolly, black card (30+2), Oisín Waters (St. Martin's) for Malone (HT), Joe Curtis (Kilanerin) for Crowley (HT), Eoin Foley (Volunteers) for O'Brien (53), Aodhán Byrne (Shelmaliers) for Kavanagh, inj. (60+4), also Conall McGuinness (Glynn-Barntown), Jason Murphy (Horeswood).

Longford: Conor Skelly; Seán McCormack, Seán O'Sullivan (joint capt.), Cathal Gilligan; Matthew Shaughnessy, Darren Moffett, Ciarán Scanlon; Connor Leonard, Richard Prior; Jack Macken, Aaron Farrell (0-1), Keelin McGann (joint capt., 2-5, 0-3 frees); Jack Duggan (0-2), Tiernan Hussey (0-7, 3 frees), Séadhna Ryan. Subs. - Daniel Kurkin for Shaughnessy (38), Kevin Tansey for Macken (50), Diarmuid Kelly for Prior, inj. (53), Ronan Sheahan (1-0) for Duggan (57), Brian Masterson for Ryan (59), Mark McNerney for McCormack (60+1).

Referee: Seamus Mulhare (Laois).

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