Late scores for Roscommon not enough to thwart Leitrim
Title holders given boost as they hold out for victory in Carrick-on-Shannon
Leitrim manager Sean Hagan. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.
Leitrim’s successful defence of their Connacht League title nearly came unstuck against a resilient Roscommon who scored an injury-time goal and a point to leave the narrowest of margins in an exciting and enjoyable final played in difficult conditions at Páirc Seán Mhíc Diarmada, Carrick-on-Shannon, yesterday.
However, the margin of victory meant nothing to the largely home support among the 3000-plus crowd who relished getting one over on their neighbouring county and pick up some silverware in the process.
Leitrim manager Sean Hagan summed up the mood when he said the victory was “huge for the players’ confidence going into the [NATIONAL]League campaign and beating Roscommon who have been a bogey team for Leitrim gets that off their backs”.
Unlike previous outings Leitrim served notice of their intentions early on with an Emlyn Mulligan pointed free after three minutes added to by an excellent Aaron Hickey goal three minutes later as Roscommon, despite playing with a strong wind, struggled.
Indeed it was 13 minutes before Roscommon got on the scoresheet with a point from play by defender Niall Daly cancelled four minutes later by a superb Wayne McKeon point from play.
Two further Roscommon points by Conor Daly and Niall Carty in the 25th and 28th minute kept them in touch but McKeon, who was voted man of the match, produced another excellent point from distance against the wind one minute into extra-time to give Leitrim a deserved half-time lead of 1-3 to 0-3.
It was a more determined Roscommon who started the second half making several changes including the introduction of former minor player Diarmuid Murtagh who reduced the arrears with a pointed free in the 33rd minute.
His brother Ciaráin added another Roscommon point from play three minutes later as the visitors upped their game .
Leitrim responded with points by Fergal Clancy and Ray Cox to maintain their lead going into the final quarter.
The introduction of John Mulligan making his senior debut produced immediate results and he was at the end of an excellent Leitrim move to finish to the net with four minutes remaining.
Just when it looked as though Leitrim had done enough, Roscommon applied the pressure once more and an excellent goal by Niall Daly in the 60th minute left just two points between the sides.
An extra-time Cathal Cregg pointed free left the narrowest of margins but Leitrim held out for a deserved victory.
LEITRIM: C McCrann; B Prior, D Wrynn, P Maguire; P Brennan,G Reynolds, W McKeon (0-2); A Hickey (1-0), D Moran; K Conlon, R Lowe, F Clancy (0-1); E Mulligan (capt, 0-1, free), T Beirne, R Cox (0-1). Subs: D Beck for P Brennan (Black card), J Glancy for R Lowe, G Hickey for D Moran, J Mulligan (1-0) for R Cox, E Mahon for A Hickey.
ROSCOMMON: D O’Malley; N Collins, N Carty (capt, 0-1), C Cafferty; S McDermott, N Daly (1-1), C Daly(0-1); C Shine, K Higgins; C Devaney, C Burns, M Nally; S Kilbride, C Cregg (0-1, free), C Murtagh(0-1). Subs: M Finneran for C Burns, D Keane for C Devaney, D Murtagh (0-2, free) for Kilbride, D O’Gara for M Nally, E Smith for K Higgins.
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).