Leitrim caused the shock of the day when they deservedly defeated fancied Down in an exciting and at times physical contest at Pairc Sean Mhic Diarmada yesterday.
In a dramatic climax, Leitrim held off a late Down surge to clinch victory by the narrowest of margins.
Emyln Mulligan opened the Leitrim account with a pointed free after four minutes, but the home side were rocked two minutes later when Benny Coulter fired to the net from 25 metres. However, that was as good as it got for the Mournemen, as Leitrim, playing excellent football, chased and harried every ball. Their efforts were rewarded 23 minutes into the half when Mulligan scored a penalty goal following a foul on Philly McGuiness who was bearing down on the DownÓgoal.
Four more Leitrim points without reply left the home side deservedly ahead 1-6 to 1-1 at the break.
As expected, Down started the second half in determined mood, and with a strong wind at their backs, whittled away the Leitrim lead, Scóring six points to Leitrims one between the 39th and 51st minutes.
However, a fisted goal by man of the match Philly McGuiness from a Ciaran Duignan pass 15 minutes from time rocked Down and sent Leitrim on their way to victory. This was followed five minutes later by the dismissal of influential midfielder Declan Rooney for an off the ball foul. Although the visitors continued to press forward, and scored two further pointed frees without reply, it was to be Leitrims day.
LEITRIM: E Mulligan (1p, 4f) 1-4, P McGuinness 1-1, F McBrien, S Foley 0-1 each
DOWN — L Doyle (5f) 0-5, B Coulter 1-0, A Carr, J Clarke, D Hughes, R Sexton 0-1 each
LEITRIM — nÓgill; D Reynolds, J McKeon, M McGuinness; G Reynolds, B Prior, S Foley;G McCloskey (Capt), M Duignan; M Foley, E Mulligan, P McGuinness; D OConnor, D Brennan, F McBrien
Subs: D Duignan for F McBrien,C Duignan for D Brennan, C Regan for E Mulligan, R Gallagher for M Duignan, B McWeeney for P McGuinness
DOWN — M McAllister; L Howard,G McArdle,M Cole; R Murtagh,L Doyle,P Turley; A Rodgers, D Rooney; J Fegan, R Sexton, D Hughes; P Downey, D Gordon (Capt), B Coulter
Subs: D Rafferty for G McArdle, A Carr for R Murtagh, K McGuigan for P Turley, J Clarke for P Downey, S Kearney for J Fegan
REF– M Daly (Mayo)
07-Apr-08 by Irish Independant.ie