By Mike Fitzpatrick
Stamford 3-18, Longford 2-10
It was a joy to watch this high-scoring Div. I football quarterfinal encounter between Stamford and Longford Sunday at Gaelic Park. No fewer than 11 Stamford players got on the scoresheet in what proved to be a thoroughly complete team performance. No one Stamford player stood out. All gelled so well as a unit that Longford, even though they scored the fine total of two goals and 10 points, they still finished on the losing side.
Declan Curtin started the onslaught on the Longford goal with a point early on and was quickly followed onto the scoresheet by his teammates Kieran Gallagher, Terry McCann and Keith Hennessy. Mike McKenna replied with a point for Longford, and Michael Francis Russell stole an important goal that dragged Longford back into contention. Stamford’s Ted Steede hit a point from a very difficult angle before being involved in the move that led to Mark Comerford’s goal, which opened a sizable lead.
Kevin Lilly, continuing his good form of late, involved himself in a move that saw Brendan Donoghue score a point for Longford, followed swiftly by points from Brendan Lennon and Brian O’Connor to leave Longford trailing by two points going into the break.
The second half witnessed an outrageously ferocious attack on goal by Stamford’s Aidan Creamer, Mike Martin and Kieran Gallagher, all scoring points and Gallagher shooting a goal past Longford’s Ger Fox. Martin passed to Gallagher, who stumbled while shooting for goal only to score a point. He made up for this mishap minutes later, scoring his side’s third goal and leaving Longford trailing in their wake. Brendan Lennon and Kevin Lilly scored points for Longford in an attempt to bring themselves back into the tie, but the dominant Stamford forward line continued to bash away at the Longford defense, Martin, Gallagher and Creamer all hitting points for Stamford as the half wore on.
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Ollie Flynn and Thomas O’Brien then came on for Longford, adding fresh legs to their tiring team. It paid off in the short term with Flynn scoring a fine goal after some good work. Among the Longford forward line, midfielder Ronan Mooney and Creamer, playing amazingly well, scored another three points for Stamford, with substitute Kieran Brady also netting one for Stamford. Though Longford played quite well, indeed enough to beat a team of lesser stature than Stamford, they found themselves well behind when Russell was awarded a penalty in the dying seconds.
It was a fabulous Stamford performance worthy of a championship final. If they continue this form, they are surely a good bet to go all the way. Their forward line, boasting quality like Creamer, Martin, Gallagher and Hennessy, is second to none, and their defense is also of a high standard. This is a team on a mission.
Stamford: David Roughan, Brendan Brady (0-1), Jim Lyons, John Creegan, Declan Curtin (0-1), Richie Purcell, Mark Comerford (1-0), Ted Steede (0-1), Ronan Mooney (0-1), Mike Martin (0-2), Aidan Creamer (0-4), Justin O’Halloran, Terry McCann (0-1), Keith Hennessy (0-1), Kieran Gallagher (2-5),. Subs. Kieran Brady (0-1), Brian Martin.
Longford: Ger Fox, Fergal Barrett, Eamonn Fitzmaurice, Philip Bermingham, Dessie McGoldrick, Declan Humphries, Barry Kavanagh, Brian O’Connor (0-1), Jack Lynn, Brendan Donaghue (0-3), Kevin Lilly (0-2), Mike McKenna (0-1), Michael Francis Russell (1-2), Collie Baul, Brendan Lennon (0-1).