South Down’s hopes of
retaining the Leinster Hurling Shield took a
knock in Edgeworthstown on Sunday when last
year’s beaten finalists, Longford, ran
out clear winners.
The match was played on a sultry,
warm day which tended to slow down the play.
Down began brightly with a David McGovern point
in the second minute but Longford adapted better
to the heat and by half-time they were 1-14
to 1-6 ahead. Down’s other scores were
two points from long range frees by John Murphy
and two points from shorter range by Alan Higgins,
who also added one from play.
The Down goal came from Ronan
Mulligan who managed to get on the end of a
long range free and cleverly strike the ball
to the net. But the Down men struggled to keep
up with the strength and physical fitness of
Longford in the second half.
Again they began brightly with
another Alan Higgins free but, almost immediately,
Longford ran in two goals in two minutes and
Down realised they were in trouble.
For the next ten minutes they
kept the Leinster men scoreless. The hard-working
David McGovern was replaced by Jonathan McCusker
and debutant Paudie Matthews came on in place
of Karl Maxwell, who had worked tirelessly up
McCusker grabbed a goal and
a point, both from frees and when Liam Deegan
knocked over a fine point from midfield, a Down
comeback seemed on the cards. With ten minutes
to go they trailed 3-16 to 2-10.
But it was Longford who finished
the stronger. They scored 1-2 in the last ten
minutes as the Down men wilted in the heat.
Although Down were missing
several first team players, the result shows
that the players will need to improve their
game for the Nicky Rackard all-Ireland competition
which begins at the end of June.
South Down: Gary McMullan,
Michael Murphy, Brian McAleenan, Paul McCusker,
Gary Courtney, Daniel McCusker (Capt), James
McGrath, Liam Deegan (0-1), John Murphy (0-2
frees), Karl Maxwell, Colm O’Neill (0-1),
Alan Higgins (0-4, 0-3 frees), Ronan Mulligan
(1-0), David McGovern (0-1) and Eoin McGuinness.
Subs: Paudie Matthews for Maxwell
(35 mins); Jonathan McCusker for McGovern (45
mins); Damien Kearns for McMullan (50 mins).