Report by Tony Ghee
The Longford Town Under 17’s ended their league campaign with a richly deserved 2-1 home victory over Shelbourne at the City Calling Stadium as a superbly executed 88th minute lob from Evan O’Connor earned all three points for the home side as the Town youngsters secured a mid-table finish in the Under 17 National League Northern Section.
The visitors almost took the lead after just three minutes when Both Delaney and Hyland had efforts cleared off the line by Town defender Ciaran Barry.
Ten minutes later it was the home side’s turn to come close. A perfectly weighted diagonal crossfield ball from Hagan picked out Luczynski whose right-wing cross was somehow hooked goalwards from a tight angle by Steward only for Shelbourne centre-half Black to head clear.
On twenty-four minutes, Town keeper Claffey made a smart save from Hyland to keep the visitors at bay, while at the other end, Town striker Steward had two goalbound efforts blocked by the two Shelbourne centre-halves in quick succession.
A bizarre incident in the twenty-eighth minute resulted in a Town defender saving Shels from going behind with an unintentional goal-line clearance. Patrick O’Sullivan was fouled on the right and Luczynski’s curling free-kick left Shel’s keeper Clancy stranded, but the ball that seemed destined for the far bottom corner rebounded back out off Town defender Coughlan.
Longford had two more chances to break the deadlock in the closing five minutes of the opening half. Firstly, a pin-point pass from Hagan found Steward whose shot was brilliantly saved by Clancy, and then right on half-time, a beautifully struck pass from Mamaliga from inside the centre-circle in the opposition half picked out Luczynski on the right, he changed direction to create a better angle and he cleverly dinked the ball over the advancing Shels keeper Clancy only for his effort to strike the side-netting.
The Town deservedly took the lead thirteen minutes into the second half when a magnificent diagonal ball resulted in Steward rifling a powerful shot from the right-edge of the Shelbourne box to the back of the visitor’s net.
Clancy kept Shels in the contest with an excellent save on seventy minutes from Steward’s fifteen yard shot after good set-up play from Hagan.
Those missed chances looked like being very costly when Shels equalised just a minute later as McPhillips curled a twenty-five yard free-kick to the bottom left corner of the Town net.
Longford came agonisingly close to regaining the lead two minutes later only for Hagan’s thirty-yard free-kick to hit the top of the Shelbourne crossbar.
Shels missed a great chance on seventy-nine minutes when a ball over the top of the Town defence released substitute Howlin but fortunately for the Town Howlin fired narrowly wide.
Just as it looked like that both sides would have to settle for a share of the spoils, the Town struck for a late winner. There were just two minutes left when the Dublin side’s keeper raced outside his box to head clear a superb ball over the top of his defence to repel a dangerous attack, however, the ball landed at the feet of Evan O’Connor forty yards out from goal and he executed an exquisite lob over the back-peddling Clancy that nestled in the corner of the Shelbourne net.
Longford Town: Killian Claffey, Aaron Kelly, Ciaran Barry, Jason Coughlan, Killian Flynn, Patrick O’Sullivan, Dragos Mamaliga, Joe Hagan, Evan O’Connor, Daniel Luczynski , Dylan Steward.
Substitutes: Thomas Ivel for Steward (76 minutes), Cian Cheevers for Luczynski (86 minutes).
Unused substitutes: James Finn, Konrad Wiechec, Gustavo Rodrigues, Mikolaj Borowiec.
Shelbourne: Clancy, Mambo, Black, Lawlor, Maher, Kuty, Delaney, Brennan, McPhillips, Hyland, Conway.
Substitutes used: Clifford for Mambo (55 minutes), Howlin for Delaney (66 minutes).
Unused substitutes: Barry, McEvoy.