13 March 2005 ? Division 2a: Allianz NFL Round 4
Leitrim Fall in Carlow
A first half goal for the home side in Dr Cullen Park Carlow on Sunday denied Leitrim the opportunity of moving into second place in Division 2A of the Allianz football league and dealt a serious blow to the county?s promotion hopes.
Leitrim went into this game enjoying their best form for some time having beaten a fancied Clare team and pushing All Ireland semi-finalists Fermanagh all the way, but a dreadful period in the minutes leading up to half time along with the concession of a very soft goal proved the visitors? undoing.
For once, the Leitrim problems were at the defensive end of the field and a very lively Carlow full forward line caused huge difficulties for John Mc Keon and co throughout ? the Leitrim men uncharacteristically conceding 10 points from play to the Carlow inside trio. Leitrim also struggled to find their feet in the middle of the field, particularly in the first half and while the forward line helped to accrue an impressive tally of sixteen points, they were left to rue two excellent goal Scóring opportunities in the first half and a disallowed effort in the second.
Leitrim had started brightly with James Glancy, Declan Maxwell and Johnny Goldrick causing problems for the Carlow defence as the Connacht team raced into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead. However, disaster struck when a long ball from a sideline kick was misjudged by the Leitrim defence and allowed to bounce in the Leitrim square, coming off the crossbar and into the hands of the waiting David Nolan who finished calmly to the net.
It was a goal of the cheapest variety and galvanised the home side who began to take a grip in the centre of the field and with a point from the ever dangerous Simon Rea moved into a 1-3 to 0-3 lead. Leitrim did react well and scores from Declan Maxwell, James Glancy and Michael Foley appeared to have weathered the storm. Indeed, Maxwell?s effort might well have ended in the Carlow net but for an excellent save from John Brennan after the Drumreilly man had brilliantly fielded a high ball and turned the Carlow full back.
With only five minutes to go to the break the sides were level but Leitrim were about to experience their worst spell of the game conceding five points in as many minutes to a grateful Carlow attack as a combination of lethargic defending and an inability to win the ball in the midfield diamond left Leitrim with an uphill battle for the second half ? five points in arrears 1-8 to 0-6.
Des Dolan chose to reshuffle his hand for the second half introducing Darren Duignan and Colin Regan for Gary Mc Closkey and Barry Butler. Declan Maxwell moved to midfield with Dermot Reynolds rejoined the defence having started in the half forward line. However, when Simon Rea extended the Carlow lead to six points within a minute of the restart, the game appeared to be slipping from Leitrim?s grasp.
If there is one thing that Des Dolan has instilled in this Leitrim team it is a self belief in their own ability to overcome adversity and rather than lie down as might have been expected in the past, Leitrim battled bravely to get back into the game with Maxwell, Dermot Reynolds and Michael Foley particularly prominent. A baffling decision to disallow what appeared to be a perfectly good Leitrim goal left the sizeable Leitrim following to question if it was just one of those days but a series of scores from Foley kept Leitrim in the game up to the final whistle.
On a number of occasions the men in green and gold hauled the Carlow lead back to two points but despite some good chances, Leitrim were unable to close the gap any further and time ran out on a brave comeback.
The game will have given the Leitrim management much to dwell on however ahead of next Sunday?s visit to Pearse Park to face a Longford team currently riding high at the top of Division 2a. The Leitrim defence will certainly need to up their performance against a highly rated Longford attack and Dolan may be tempted to give Declan Maxwell his first start in the middle of field. He will also be consoled by the fact that his team managed an impressive tally of 16 points in the defeat but considering the heavy defeat inflicted on Carlow by Longford in Pearse Park last week, anything other than a home win will be considered a shock result.
Leitrim: Cathal Mc Crann, Michael Mc Guinness, John Mc Keon, Barry Butler, Niall Gilbane, Barry Mc Weeney, Shane Foley, Christopher Carroll (0-1), Gary Mc Closkey, Johnny Goldrick (0-2), Barry Prior, Dermot Reynolds (0-1), Michael Foley (0-8), Declan Maxwell (0-2) and James Glancy (0-2). Subs used: Colin Regan for Mc Closkey, Darren Duignan for Butler, Ray Cox for Glancy (yellow carded)
14-Mar-05 by Lovely Leitrim