Room for improvement despite deserved victory

After the encouraging display a week earlier in Ballyhaunis, Leitrim recorded their first win of the year on Sunday last in Ballinamore when they got the better of old rivals Roscommon. While the performance was by no means complete, there were continued signs of improvement and the work rate, commitment and energy displayed, particularly in the second half will have pleased Barney Breen and George Dugdale.

After the encouraging display a week earlier in Ballyhaunis, Leitrim recorded their first win of the year on Sunday last in Ballinamore when they got the better of old rivals Roscommon.

While the performance was by no means complete, there were continued signs of improvement and the work rate, commitment and energy displayed, particularly in the second half will have pleased Barney Breen and George Dugdale.

By Philip Rooney

Leitrim 1-8

Roscommon 1-5

While Roscommon may have been missing the St Brigid’s contingent and other players through injury, their manager Des Newton will not have been overly pleased with the performance from those who lined out for the Rossies. John Rogers and Matt Scally both had impressive outings but otherwise Roscommon were second best all over the pitch.

That was typified by the performance of Donie Shine who had a day to forget as he saw two first half frees and a 45 sail wide in the opening half. Shine, who has tormented Leitrim in recent years was particularly quite from play, with full-back Ciaran Egan ensuring he had little telling influence on proceedings.

While the short comings of the Roscommon side were evident for all to see, it would do a disservice to the Leitrim players not to credit them for their performance.

In the week that saw the plight of the team, which has been so badly effected by emigration featured on the national news, the same starting 15 began as a week earlier and they can all be satisfied with their afternoon’s work.

The full-back line was once again very impressive while goalkeeper Cathal McCrann, although not overly busy, was very assured under the high ball and his communication with the those around him helped ensure the defensive unit remained organised.

Wayne McKeon, captaining the side on his home ground saw more of the ball than he had a week earlier and his driving runs helped keep Roscommon on the back foot. McKeon switched from wing back to centre back for the second and he proved to be particularly effective from the more central position. Arguably Leitrim’s best performer on the day was Daniel Beck who look assured and composed when operating in his own half and was clinical and decisive when advancing forward.

The midfield duo of Paddy McGowan and Daniel Lowe had a difficult afternoon against Mayo in the opening FBD League match, but last Sunday they stamped their presence and authority on the game form an early stage against the talented Roscommon pairing of Michael Finneran and Kevin Higgins.

Lowe was never far away from a breaking ball throughout the game while McGowan was always available to receive the ball from his team-mates in defensive positions and looked comfortable moving forward in possession. The fact that he scored a fine point for the second successive week signified the impact he is capable of making.

To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.