London denied at the death
Exiles held to a draw by Leitrim after almost earning a place in the Connacht final
A calf strain ends Emlyn Mulligan’s afternoon in the first half. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Leitrim 0-13 London 2-7: London came within a whisker of making it through to the Connacht final but two late points from Darren Sweeney and Kevin Conlon bought Leitrim a replay. In a heart-stopping finale at Páirc Seán MacDiarmada, Leitrim full-back Ciaran Egan came up to attempt a 45 with the last kick of the game but it skewed badly to the left and wide, leaving a replay in Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon next Sunday (3.40pm) as the outcome.
In truth, London were out of this game for long periods but two goals against the run of play kept them in it. After a slow start, Leitrim gradually took control of the opening half and the fact that they did so after losing their marquee forward Emlyn Mulligan was only to their credit. Mulligan went down with a calf strain after 13 minutes and though he stood up to kick an easy free and draw Leitrim level at 0-3 to 0-3, it was his last act of the afternoon.
But although Mark Gottsche put London ahead with a long range free soon after, it was Leitrim who found their rhythm in the period leading up to half-time. Fine scores from James Glancy, Brendan Brennan and Paddy McGowan all within a couple of minutes of each other put distance between the sides for the first time and it looked as though Leitrim were going to assert their authority on the game from there.
Just on the stroke of half-time however, London grabbed the lead with a freakish goal. A Pádraig McGoldrick shot dropped short but Leitrim goalkeeper Cathal McCann lost it in the wind and could only parry it onto the knees of the on rushing Lorcan Mulvey. It meant that London led by a point at half-time, 1-4 to 0-6.
Leitrim re-established their midfield dominance as the second half wore on and points from Conlon and Brendan and Paul Brennan pushed them 0-10 to 1-5 ahead with 15 minutes to go. But a goal from London substitute Sean Kelly turned the game on its head and he followed up with the point of the day to edge London closer to a famous win.
But those late points from Sweeney and Conlon save Leitrim’s bacon.
Leitrim: C McCrann, A Wynne, C Egan, G Reynolds; D Beck, E Williams, B Prior; D Sweeney, B Brennan; P Brennan, E Mulligan, P McGowan; K Conlon, J Glancy, R Lowe. Subs: C Reynolds for Mulligan, 16 mins; A Croal for C Reynolds, 55 mins; R Cox for Conlon, 71 mins
London: D Traynor; P Butler, S Curran, D McGreevy; S Hannon, S Mulligan, T Gaughan; M Gottsche, C Doyle; G Crowley, L Mulvey, B Mitchell; P McGoldrick, C McCallion, C Magee. Subs: P Geraghty for Gottsche, 30 mins; D Dunleavy for Mitchell, 39 mins; E O’Neill for McGoldrick, 49 mins; S Kelly for Doyle, 53 mins; S MCWeeney for Beck, 66 mins; D O’Neill for MCCallion, 69 mins
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)