Limerick, who upped their performance in the second half, came from behind on Sunday last to defeat Leitrim in a hard fought National Football League Division 4 opening round game in the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick.
It was Leitrim’s first defeat of the year after winning their four FBD League games with an unbeaten run on the previous four Sundays in January. Leitrim managed to surge ahead by a point at the end of the first half after fighting a tit for tat battle with the Limerick men.
In the second half Limerick had the advantage of the wind and got level within a minute of the throw in and then grabbed a two point lead over the next five minutes. The Limerick men maintained that advantage for most of the second half until Leitrim cut their score to the very minimum in the closing stages but were unable to get a result.
Leitrim got off to a bright start when Emlyn Mulligan finished off a move that started in his full back line with a first minute point from play. But Limerick got on level terms when Eoghan O’Connor tapped over a free two minutes later.
James O’Meara put Limerick in front when he shot a 6th minute point from play while two minutes later Eoghan O’Connor blazed a goal chance over the crossbar to double their lead while allowing Leitrim a let off at the same time.
Leitrim got back on level terms by the 18th minute after Emlyn Mulligan put over two frees; the second one for a foul on James Glancy. Points were exchanged from frees between Limerick’s Eoghan O’Connor and Leitrim’s Emlyn Mulligan (for another foul on James Glancy) by the 27th minute that maintained the stalemate situation in the contest.
Leitrim edged ahead by 0–5 to 0–4 before the break after Paul Brennan kicked a spectacular long range 33rd minute point. But within 60seconds of the restart Limerick got on level terms when their top player and marksman as well as Leitrim’s tormentor Eoghan O’Connor tapped over a point from a free.
Four minutes later Stephen Lavin put Limerick into a lead they never subsequently surrendered with a point from play. Shortly afterwards Eoghan O’Connor doubled Limerick’s lead with another point from play.
But Adrian Croal reduced Limerick’s lead to the minimum when he fired over a 37th minute point, which was Leitrim’s opening score of the second half.
Limerick dominated the game for most of the next twenty minutes in a long spell in which they held Leitrim scoreless and increased their lead by four points. In this period Eoghan O’Connor shot two points for Limerick while James O’Meara also added a point.
Gerry Hickey initiated a late rally for Leitrim when he shot a 57th minute Leitrim point from play. Over the next five minutes Leitrim reduced Limerick’s lead to a point with Emlyn Mulligan and substitute Sean McWeeney got a score apiece
But Limerick held out against Leitrim late bid to pull the game out of the fire when substitute Paul Kinnerk fired over an injury time point from play that made the home victory secure in the final seconds of the action.
Leitrim play Clare in Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday next and need a win over Mick O’Dwyer side to get back into the Division 4 promotion race.
LIMERICK: Brian Scanlon; Ciaran Coady, Johnny McCarthy, Mark O’Riordan; Stephen Lavin 0–2, Paudie Browne, Pa Ranahan; Thomas Lee, Bobby O’Brien; Seamus O’Carroll, John Riordan, Derry O’Connor; Eoghan O’Connor 0-6 (3 frees), Ian Corbett, James O’Meara 0–2.
Subs:- Paul Kinnerk 0–1 for Lee; Darragh Treacy for Corbett.
LEITRIM: Cathal McCrann; Alan Wynne, Ciaran Egan, Paddy Maguire; Colm Clarke, Paul Brennan (0–1), Daniel Beck; Wayne McKeon, Paddy McGowan; Adrian Croal (0–1), Emlyn Mulligan 0–5 (2 frees), Gerry Hickey 0–1; Ray Cox, James Glancy, Brian McDonald.
Subs:- Sean McWeeney 0–1 for Clarke; Brendan Brennan for McGowan; Kevin Conlan for McDonald; Conor Beirne for Cox; Cian Reynolds for Croal.
Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary).