John Heslin shines for St Loman’s as they edge out Old Leighlin
Westmeath champions make impressive debut in Leinster championship
St Loman’s (Westmeath) 1-11 Old Leighlin (Carlow) 1-10: Newly-crowned Westmeath champions after a 50-year gap, St Loman’s, Mullingar marked their debut in the Leinster senior football club championship with a hard-fought win by the narrowest of margins over Old Leighlin of Carlow in an entertaining game in Cusack Park, Mullingar yesterday afternoon.
The wind-assisted visitors started brightly, with Cathal Coughlan causing untold problems for the St Loman’s defence, and they were full value for their 0-4 to 0-0 lead after 11 minutes.
The winners’ marquee forward, John Heslin then got into his stride and scored a fine point under pressure, which he quickly followed up with a terrific goal in the 14th minute to tie up the scoring.
Old Leighlin regained the lead in the 19th minute, Coughlan reacting the quickest to find the net after his penalty kick had been brilliantly saved by Stephen Gallagher.
Tit-for-tat scoring continued until Heslin kicked a sublime free from 45 metres into a strong wind with the last kick of the first half, leaving his side trailing by a point at the break (1-6 to 1-5).
Coughlan doubled Old Leighlin’s lead with a great point under pressure within 90 seconds of the resumption of play. St Loman’s inter-county player, Paul Sharry was more prominent in the second half and when he and Old Leighlin goalkeeper James Clarke traded points from well-struck 45s, the Carlow champions led by 1-10 to 1-9 with six minutes of normal time remaining.
With time running out, Clarke pulled off a fine save from Shane Dempsey, but a fisted point from substitute Jason O’Toole in the 58th minute brought St Loman’s level.
Deep into added-time, Heslin tapped over the winning score from a free after he was fouled close to goal.
ST LOMAN’S: S Gallagher; S Gilmore, S Flynn, A Carroll; P Dowdall, G Glennon, D Whelan; C Kilmurray, B Murphy; E Price, K Reilly (0-1), W McGovern; P Sharry (0-2, 0-1 ‘45’), J Heslin (1-6, 0-4 frees), S Dempsey (0-1). Subs: J O’Toole (0-1) for Carroll (16 mins), G Hickey for Murphy (50 mins).
OLD LEIGHLIN: J Clarke (0-1, ‘45’); R Burke, Michael Meaney, G Hickey; E Fitzgerald, J Hayden, B Hayes; D Dowling, H Gahan (0-1); D Bambrick, P Hickey (0-2), Michael Meaney; C Coughlan (1-4), W Minchin, S Kinsella (0-2, frees). Subs: M Brennan for Michael Meaney [NO 3](26 mins), S Kennedy for Michael Meaney [NO 12](43 mins), S Daly for Burke (49 mins).
Referee: G McCormack (Dublin).