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Con O'Callaghan's brother bags two goals but Dessie Farrell era begins in Longford defeat

Niall O’Callaghan’s brace couldn’t prevent Dublin from falling to Longford in the O’Byrne Cup semi-final.

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell.
Dublin manager Dessie Farrell.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Longford 1-13

Dublin 3-6

AN O’BYRNE CUP semi-final at a cold and windy Pearse Park in January couldn’t feel further away from a heaving Croke Park on a September Sunday, but that’s where the Dessie Farrell-era started this afternoon.

Dublin fell to a late 1-13 to 3-6 defeat to Longford in Farrell’s opening day on the sideline, in a game that was hard-hitting and bad-tempered at times. Midfielder Darren Gallagher sealed a final meeting against Offaly in Tullamore next Saturday with a stoppage-time free – his fifth score of the day.

Gallagher won the contentious free himself in the 74th minute to the dismay of the Dublin backs and supporters. Indeed, following the final whistle referee Alan Coyne was helped into the dressing room by the stewards as the away fans made their displeasure clear.

Farrell’s opening game arrived just 30 days after his appointment as Jim Gavin’s replacement. With last year’s five-in-a-row winning squad excused from playing in this competition and others involved in third level action, he fielded an experimental side. 

Realistically, only a handful of players involved are in with a shout of making the extended panel given the strength-in-depth at Farrell’s disposal. 

One man who put his hand up in a big way was Cuala’s Niall O’Callaghan, the younger brother of All-Star forward Con. Like his sibling, Niall is well-built and extremely direct with the ball in hand. The full-forward hit the net twice, in the 36th and 50th minute, while Killian O’Gara, younger brother of the recently retired Eoghan, grabbed Dublin’s other goal. 

Farrell’s decision to use 10 first-half substitutes gave this game the feel of a challenge match after the opening quarter. Unlimited substitutions are permitted in the O’Byrne Cup and Farrell made full use of his squad, which was filled with players hoping to break onto his 2020 panel.

By the finish, Dublin had made 23 replacements, compared to three from Padraic Davis’s Longford. The game did become tense in the closing stages as Longford hauled their opponents back in and then won it by kicking the final three points.

Cian Murphy, the star defender of 2019 Dublin SFC finalists Thomas Davis, was the first to make way after 18 minutes. His replacement Ross McGowan immediately set-up Killian O’Gara’s goal seconds after his introduction.

iarla-osullivan-and-cian-murphy Cian Murphy attacks for Dublin. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Before the ball was kicked out, O’Gara was called ashore. And so was the pattern for the remainder of the half. Dublin, with only five of their starting team still on the field, went in level at the interview, 1-3 to 0-6. 

The pick of Longford’s attacking play came through Rian Brady, the Mullinalaghta ace who opted out of the county squad last season. The left-footed corner-forward scored four points and knitted much of the home team’s good moves together in the encounter.

O’Callaghan, Dublin’s brightest player, powered home two goals in the third quarter. He departed the fray in the 50th minute as Farrell continued to roll in and out players at will. 

Kevin Diffley broke forward from midfield to net for Longford and his midfielder partner Darren Gallagher brought his tally to four with two frees to bring them within a point by the 65th minute.

Darragh Doherty pulled Longford level before Gallagher won it in injury-time.

Scorers for Longford: Darren Gallagher 0-5 (0-2f), Kevin Diffley 1-1 (0-1f), Rian Brady 0-4 (0-1f), Oran Kenny 0-2.

Scorers for Dublin: Niall O’Callaghan 2-0, Killian O’Gara 1-0, Gerry Seaver 0-2, CJ Smith, Glenn O’Reilly, Nathan Doran and Dermot McLoughlin 0-1 each.

Longford 

1. Paddy Collum (Fr Manning Gaels)

2. Patrick Fox (Mullinalaghta)
3. Andrew Farrell (Cashel)
4. Barry O’Farrell (Carrickedmond)

5. Iarla O’Sullivan (Rathcline)
6. Michael Quinn (Killoe Young Emmets)
7. Colm P Smyth (Abbeylara)

8. Darren Gallagher (St Mary’s)
9. Kevin Diffley (Ballymahon)

10. Gary Rogers (Mullinalaghta)
11. Daniel Mimnagh (Killoe Young Emmets)
12. Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connollys)

13. Rian Brady (Mullinalaghta)
14. Joseph Hagan (Dromard)
15. Oran Kenny (Rathcline)

Subs

18. Darragh Doherty for Rogers (57)
24. Peter Lynn for Kenny (58)
26. Liam Connerton for Reynolds (68)

Dublin

1 Michael Shiel (St Sylvester’s)

2. CJ Smith (Lucan Sarsfields)
3. Eoin O’Brien (Castleknock)
4. Darren Byrne (Raheny)

5. Niall McGovern (Na Fianna)
6. Graham Hannigan (Castleknock)
7. Cian Murphy (Thomas Davis)

8. Emmett ó Conghaile (Lucan Sarsfields)
20. Tom Lahiff (St Judes)

10. Niall Walsh (St Oliver Plunkett/Eoghan Ruadh)
11. Dan O’Brien (Kilmacud Crokes)
12. Glenn O’Reilly (Na Fianna)

13. Killian O’Gara (Templeogue Synge St)
14. Niall O’Callaghan (Cuala)
15. Chris Sallier (Thomas Davis)

Subs

17. Ross McGovern (Kilmacud Crokes) for Murphy (18)
26. Scott Fulham for O’Gara (19)
21. Ryan Deegan for O’Reilly (21)
24. Gerry Seaver for Walsh (25)
18. Sean Cleary for Smith (25)
25. David Quinn for Sallier (27)
23. Dermot McLoughlin for O’Brien (27)
22. Nathan Doran for Lahiff (29)
19. Eoin O’Dea for McGovern (30)
9. Andrew Foley for O Conghaile (32)
8. O Conghaile for Foley (41)
10. Walsh for Seaver (45)
12. O’Reilly for Deegan (45)
7. Murphy for Cleary (49)
15. Sallier for O’Callaghan (50)
13. O’Gara for Quinn (56)
5. McGovern for O’Dea (56)
11. O’Brien for McLoughlin (56)
20. Lahiff for Doran (60)
24. Seaver for Fulham (60)
2. Smith for Hannigan (63)
14. O’Callaghan for Sallier (68)
19. O’Dea for Murphy (74)

*Clubs of substitutes not listed in match programme

Referee: Alan Coyne (Westmeath)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / Reports from Pearse Park

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