Leitrims bid to put back to back victories together in the Allianz League were dashed on Sunday when Wicklow left Páirc Seán with the vital two points courtesy of a five point win (1-15 to 1-10).
For the second week in a row it was "unlucky for some" in Pairc Sean with 13 man Leitrim following the trend from the previous Sunday when it was 13 man Clare.
Leitrim started this contest brightly and were first on the scoreboard with an early point from the excellent Adrian Croal. From the resultant kickout, Leitrim surged forward and were awarded a 3rd minute penalty for a foot block on Daniel Becks shot. Unfortunately Conor Beirnes effort was saved by the Wicklow keeper but there was some consolation as the subsequent 45 was well dispatched by Darren Sweeney. Adrian Croal got his second point from play in the next move of the game and this opened up a 3 point lead for the home side. Wicklow responded two minutes later with their opening score from a free and in the 7th minute the fabric of the game was to change as Leitrim were reduced to 14 men with the dismissal of midfielder Tomas Beirne on a straight red card. The signs looked ominous but being fair to them, Leitrim played some of their best football following the dismissal. Darren Sweeney restored Leitrims three point lead with a point from play following the dismissal but Wicklow quickly responded with a point from play themselves. The visitors drew level on 17 minutes and took the lead for the first time in the match five minutes later with a point from play. They extended their lead to two points quickly after before Leitrims Conor Beirne (free) and Adrian Croal (play) drew level in a two minute spell. Leitrim finished the half strongly as just before half time Conor Beirne made amends for the penalty miss when he expertly finished to the net after Barry McWeeney had delivered perfectly over the Wicklow defence. The half was to end with frees exchanged with Conor Beirne converting for the home side to leave the half time score 1-7 to 0-7 in Leitrims favour.
The second half started just as the first had ended with early frees exchanged. By the 8th minute the visitors had reduced Leitrims lead to the minimum and on 13 minutes the home side were reduced to 13 men with the dismissal of Barry McWeeney on a second yellow card and from the resulting free Wicklow drew level. Two minutes later they look the lead but Leitrim substitute Brian McDonald kept Leitrims hopes alive when he pointed from play to draw parity again for the fourth time in the contest. With 10 minutes remaining Wicklow finally broke down a resolute Leitrim side when they scored 1-2 in quick succession to put the first daylight between the sides. The final action of the game saw Wicklow score from play and Leitrim substitute Emlyn Mulligan convert a consolation free to leave the full time score Leitrim 1-10, Wicklow 1-15.
While the sending offs in either half did alter the shape of the game Leitrim only surrendered to the numerical disadvantage in the final 10 minutes. As mentioned, the game was level with 10 minutes to go and the final scoreline didnt reflect the closeness of the contest or indeed the tremendous effort the Leitrim players displayed right to the final whistle. It was obvious that the team were distraught at the final whistle and although our supporters left Páirc Seán dissappointed with the result they were hugely proud of the performance of the team who played open, attractive football throughout this entertaining contest.
It was also great to see Emlyn Mulligan introduced as a second half substitute after a long lay off with injury. Next up for Leitrim is an away fixture next Sunday at 2.30 in Ballyragget against Kilkenny (please note change of venue).
Final score Leitrim 1-10 (one 45, 4 frees)
Wicklow 1-15 (8 frees)
Gary Reynolds, RonanÓgallagher, Paddy Maguire,
Daniel Beck, Barry McWeeney, Barry Prior,
Tomas Beirne, Wayne McKeon,
Darren Sweeney 0-2 (1 45), James Glancy (Glencar Manor) (Capt), Paul Brennan, Conor Beirne 1-2 (2F), Adrian Croal 0-4 (1F), Ray Cox
Subs: Dermot Reynolds (Annaduff) for Daniel Beck
Brian McDonald (Glencar/Manorhamilton) 0-1 for Ray Cox
James Glancy (St Marys) for Paul Brennan
Emlyn Mulligan (Melvin Gaels) 0-1 (1F) for Conor Beirne
16-Feb-11 by Colette Fox – PRO