Longford are the last county to have beaten Dublin in the EirGrid Leinster U-21 Football Championship and will require another heroic effort to derail the reigning champions’ four-in-a-row bid this Wednesday evening.
The semi-final clash will take place under lights at Lakepoint Park, Mullingar – home of Westmeath senior champions, St Loman’s – and the attendance will probably include a contingent from Offaly considering they await the winners in the decider.
Dublin already have a recent competitive game at Lakepoint Park under their belts, easily defeating Westmeath there in a quarter-final tie on 1st March.
Aaron Byrne scored both goals as Dublin progressed by 2-14 to 0-6, with Cuala star, Con O’Callaghan chipping in with five points. Most of their players have progressed from the Leinster Minor Championship winning side of 2014, and the survivors from last season’s title-winning side include Colm Basquel, Eoin Murchan and Cillian O’Shea.
Longford, though, won’t be daunted by the challenge, having already disposed of a fancied Kildare side by 2-6 to 0-10. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of that quarter-final victory was their ability to come from behind with three late points, when it looked as if Kildare had done enough to progress.
Longford got off to a blistering start with two Nigel Rabbitte goals in the opening quarter, and with the wind at their backs, built up a 2-3 to 0-1 interval lead. But Kildare came storming back in the second half and it took two Conor Berry points, and another from Jason Matthews, to seal a superb win for Longford.
Unfortunately for Longford, they lost captain Shane Kenny with an injury in the first half of that game. Centre back Dessie Reynolds has senior championship experience from 2016 while their side features four players from reigning county champions Mullinalaghta St Columba’s - James Mooney, David McGivney, Rian Brady and Aidan McElligott.
The winners will have just a week to prepare for the final, which has been fixed for O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, on Wednesday evening, 29th March.