Following a reasonably successful Connacht campaign, Leitrim were unlucky to fall at the final hurdle to Roscommon and thus qualified for the shield competition. The scoreline on Sunday was a reflection of the team’s performance and once they registered their opening score, they dominated in every sector of the field with a powerful performance throughout the team showing great drive, excellent support play, blocking and a high degree of skill with some wonderful finishing. It is worth noting that apart from the penalty all of Leitrim’s scores were from play. It would be difficult to single out any players for special mention but captain Shauna McLoughlin was inspirational at centre back and her driving runs up the field always had Fermanagh on the back foot. Full back Patricia Forde had some great moments and as a unit the backs were solid. Midfielder Grainne O.Malley put in an excellent hour’s work and was well supported by Ciara Gaffney. Up front again all six forwards contributed superbly with their support play with Laura O’Dowd and Ailbe Clancy especially prominent but Niamh Feeleys 3-4 deserves special mention. On the evidence of Sundays display, Manager Pat McWeeney and selectors Bernie McLoughlin and Kieran Moran should have every confidence in their charges going into the Final against Offaly in two weeks time.
From the opening exchanges the signs were good for Leitrim but it took some time for the team to settle into the game. Two wides from Laura O’Dowd and Ailbhe Clancy were followed by the opening score for Fermanagh from Anna Boyle from play. Leitrim had a third opportunity to open their account but a long range free from Shauna McLoughlin just missed the target. However a minute later centre back and captain McLoughlin, supported the play up the field and pointed to get Leitrim off the mark after seven minutes. Fermanagh’s Molly McGovern has a goal opportunity moments later but Kate Beirne dealt comfortably with the shot and cleared. After fifteen minutes the sides were deadlocked with both teams enjoying periods of possession, but Leitrim looked more threatening as Michelle Beirne had a goal opportunity for Leitrim but her shot hit the outside of the post and went wide. Shauna McLoughlin then rose high to win the Fermanagh kickout and with great support play from Niamh Feeley, Laura O’Dowd pointed from play and Leitrim never looked back as their threatened dominance began to see rewards on the scoresheet. With ten minutes remaining in the half a Fermanagh free into the Leirim goalmouth was cleared up the field to Shauna McLoughlin who found Niamh Feeley in space and her shot onÓgoal was parried by the Fermanagh keeper and gathered by Michelle Beirne who was fouled as she shot onÓgoal. The resulting penalty was expertly converted by Ailbhe Clancy . This score opened the flood gates for Leitrim as Niamh Feeley pointed from play and Ann Marie Gallagher followed with another point from play. From the kick out won by Grainne O’Malley, Michelle Beirne set up Feeley who made no mistake with a goal. Fermanagh had two attacks broken up by Amy McLoughlin and Emer Feeley in defence before Feeley scored her second goal following great pressure by Ann Marie Gallagher as Fermanagh tried to clear their lines. Gallagher pointed herself moments later before Feeley was denied a hattrick by the crossbar as Leitrim continued to dominate. Laura O Dowd expertly gathered another Fermanagh kick out and Gallagher pointed again from play as the half ended to leave Leitrim in a commanding position leading by 3-6 to 0-1.
Straight from the restart Leitrim added to their tally with an O’Dowd point from play and Feeley was involved again moments later as Ailbhe Clancy pointed from play. O’Dowd pointed again from play as Fermanagh has no answer to Leitrim’s appetite for hard work throughout the field. They did however breach the Leitrim defence after five minutes with a Briege McManus point. And added a third point with a free from Terri Keown. That was to be their last point for twenty minutes and Leitrim continued their excellent play. Shauna McLoughlin again won hard ball in defence and went on a great run through the middle to det up Feeley for another point from play with Ailbhe Clancy again involved. Laura O’Dowd added to her growing tally as she pointed from play. Mid way through the half Leitrim made two changes and introduced Lauren McManus and Shannon O’Grady in the half back line for Emer Feeley and Louise Bohan (injured). Moments later a long range effort from Grainne O’Malley found the back of the net and was just reward for her workrate over the hour. Michelle Beirne was also rewarded for her efforts with a goal following good work from O’Dowd and O’Grady. With the game over as a contest Leitrim continued to over run their opponents and Feeley eventually got her third goal with a wonderful one handed pick up on the turn in front of goals and an expert finish to the net. She finished a great performance with two further points from play before Fermanagh got a well worked point from sub Sarah McCausland. Leitrim were not finished their Scóring yet as the game moved to injury time and both sides brought on a numver of subs. O’Dowd and Gallagher pointed from play before Fermanagh hit two final points from frees from Tamara Murphy.
Leitrim: Kate Beirne (Drumkeeran), Amy McLoughlin (Fenagh), Patricia Forde (Cloone), Orla Heslin (Gortlettragh), Emer Feeley (Glencar Manor), Shauna McLoughlin (Fenagh) (0-1),Louise Bohan (Mohill), Grainne O Malley (St Josephs), (1-0), Ciara Gaffney (Auughawillan), Laura O Dowd (Sean O Heslins) (0-5), Ann Marie Gallagher (Drumkeeran) (0-3), Ailbhe Clancy (Glenfarne) (1-2), Niamh Feeley (Glencar Manor) (3-4), Michelle Beirne (Mohill) (1-0), Shauna Clancy (Drumkeeran)
Subs: Michelle Monahan (Allen Gaels), Lauren McManus (Glenfarne), Deirdre Davitt (Drumkeeran), Shannon O Grady (Drumkeeran), Anita Conefry (St Josephs), Chloe McGarry (Allen Gaels), Niamh McKiernan (St Josephs), Nicole Higgins (Mohill), Emma O Hagan (Glencar Manor), Tara Fitzpartick (Aughnasheelan), Aileen O Flynn (Mohill), Ciara McGuire (St Josephs), Kelly O Brien (Leitrim Gaels), Shannon O Rourke (St Josephs), Claire Lynch (St Josephs),Nadine Hackett (Bornacoola), Michaelagh Nolan ( Drumkeeran).
Fermanagh: N. Gillen, C Jackman, R. Gallagher, C. Murphy, L McDermott, L. Mcfarland, A McManus, A Murphy, T Keown, A Boyle, M Mcmanus, M McGovern, B Walsh, A Murphy, C McCaffrey.
Referee: J. McLoughlin (Kildare)
14-Jun-09 by Patricia Bohan – Ladies Development Officer