Leitrim booked their place in the final of the Tommy Murphy Cup on August 27th after an excellent game and well deserved victory over Carlow.
This game was moved to Birr due to the likelihood of traffic congestion in the Tullamore area, however many supporters experienced long delays as a vintage festival in Birr resulted in many detours through narrow roads. Many spectators had to park up on the opposite side of the town in order to make it in time to see any of the first half.
Leitrim lined out without John McKeon (fractured wrist) and Gary McCloskey(dental injury) and with Colin Regan reported to be suffering from a viral infection the outlook was looking bleak. Leitrims last few encounters with Carlow saw them come out with defeats and the monkey was definitely on the Leitrim backs going into this game.
Leitrim started well with a 45m free within the first 2 minutes which went wide. Carlow got off the blocks with 2 points registered within the first 7 minutes. This was to be Carlows only time to lead as Leitrims Shane Foley registered the first point. This was followed up by a fine score from Donal Brennan. Carlow tried to reply and even hit the upright as Leitrim backs were kept busy. Noel Doonan who had an impressive game at midfield scored to put Leitrim ahead and then Ciaran Duignan registered his first point. Carlow replied with a point from Walsh. Leitrim went on to score 4 unanswered points before Carlow?s Alan Kelly scored 2 before half time. scoreline at halftime Leitrim 0-8 Carlow 0-5. Leitrim had a 3 point advantage but looked the better team.
The second half Leitrim started well and with the assistance of the breeze really dominated this half. Points were exchanged between Colin Regan and Carlows Thomas Walsh followed by a wide from Carlow. Donal Brennan added another point, Philly McGuinness replaced Barry Prior on the Leitrim Team and Carlows Alan Kelly kicked a scoreable free wide. Ciaran Duignan scored another fine point which was followed some minutes later with a wide from James Glancy. Throughout this half Carlow were guilty of kicking the ball into the hands of a grateful Leitrim keeper Cathal McCrann. Carlow scored another point from Alan Kelly and then the hammer blow came for Carlow as Ciaran Duignan scored a goal for Leitrim in the 24th minute. Leitrim had Carlow in a very tight grip as Donal Brennan was very unfortunate not to score another goal when he chipped the keeper and hit the crossbar.
Carlow hit a wide and missed a goal chance as a goalmouth instance saw sand and dust fly everywhere and finally the ball was carried out of the Leitrim defence. Shane Foley made way for Danny Beck as we were into the last 7 minutes of the game. The pace slowed somewhat as Leitrm spent a lot of time behind the ball and making sure no last minute upsets occurred. Declan Maxwell entered the fray for James Glancy and very quickly got involved as the Carlow defence was carved open when Maxwell short passed to Donal Brennan who blasted the ball home for Leitrims second goal as the game entered injury time. Declan Maxwell got what was to be the last score of the game as he registered a point. Ciaran Duignan made way for Dara McKiernan and Leitrim made sure of the result by holding on to possession as the referee finally blew the whistle in the 38th minute.
Fulltime result – Leitrim 2-12 Carlow 0-8
It was a great Leitrim performance and very difficult to identify a man of the match as the defence were rock solid, Midfield did an excellent job against big Carlow opponents and the forwards were full of vim and vigour with loads of ideas and weren t afraid to take their chances. Overall a very promising performance. The next two weeks will be busy for supporters as the scramble for tickets begins but this Leitrim team are worth the effort as they present a threat to a flying Louth team who go in as favourites to the Tommy Murphy final.
14-Aug-06 by Brendan Doyle – PRO