For those who couldn’t make last Sunday’s game in Ruislip there was little more than the radio, text messages and twitter to follow proceedings before the Sunday Game highlights later that evening as Tommy Clarke and PJ Leddy on Ocean FM and John Lynch and Tommy Moran on Shannonside kept those who couldn’t make it to Ruislip up to date with events.
Conditions were described as being “very, very poor” by Clarke who then brought the bad news that London had opened the scoring through Sean Kelly. If there were any doubts about the challenge facing London it was now clear just how difficult it would be for Leitrim as the home side made a good start.
Two London wides further increased the anxiety for the supporters glued to the wireless and the sound of Paddy McGowan making a tackle in a deep position further illustrated the pressure Leitrim were under.
The magic of the internet meant those living in the southern part of the county could tune in to Ocean FM while Shannonside returned to coverage of the Longford v Wexford match in Croke Park.
Emlyn Mulligan registering Leitrim’s opening score helped lift the spirits and the news that the rain was getting worse meant listening on the radio was beginning to sound a better proposition than getting soaked in London!
With almost 20 minutes played there was nothing between the sides with the sides level at two points apiece and it was sounding like Leitrim were growing into the game.
A Paddy McGowan point was given a warm welcome by John Lynch while Tommy Moran praised the Leitrim defence for dealing with “severe pressure” during the opening exchanges while the fact that Leitrim were said to be doing well against the highly rated Mark Gottsche and Lorcan Mulvey was another sign of encouragement.
Annaduff’s Ray Cox put two between the sides and John Lynch announced that Leitrim looked “comfortable.” What had all the fuss been about! It now looked like Leitrim were well and truly on course for a June 24 trip to Castlebar.
With just five minutes of the half remaining Leitrim led 0-5 to 0-3 and while the London challenge had not yet been seen off it seemed as though Leitrim were in the driving seat.
However, just when it all seemed to be going according to plan London pounced for goal. Padraig McGoldrick’s strike was followed by further London points as the home side took a three point lead into the interval although the decision to substitute McGoldrick immediately after the goal seemed to raise eyebrows on both stations and on Twitter.
As the players left the pitch and those at home raced to put on the kettle, or grab something stronger, PJ Leddy declared, there would need to be “Some serious talking to be done in the Leitrim dressing room at half time,” while Tommy Moran felt, “Leitrim have it all to do in the second half.”
As the sides came back on the pitch John Lynch reminded listeners that there would be no extra time and gave a reminder of the difficulties Leitrim have faced in 1997 and 1977 in Ruislip.
The importance of a good start for Leitrim was stressed but John Lynch brought the bad news that Sean Kelly had “pedalled through the Leitrim defence” and extended London’s lead.
There was further bad news when John announced that the wind had died down but an Emlyn Mulligan point did bring Leitrim back in contention.
The impact of substitutes Enda Williams and Shane Moran brought Leitrim to within two points and the tone of Tommy Moran’s voice was beginning to sound more confident but having failed to build on that score Tommy felt Leitrim would need a goal.
With 14 minutes remaining there was just a point between the sides and once again the prospect of returning to Carrick-on-Shannon a week later for a replay sounded a very real possibility.
“Creating chances but not taking them” were the frustrating words from John Lynch as the game passed the 62 minute mark.
With just three minutes remaining Championship debutant Shane Moran raised the roof of practically every roof in the county as he registered the equalising point which was quickly followed by two further Leitrim points.
However, “Still too close to call” was the opinion of John Lynch after Eoin O’Neill’s free in injury time brought London to within a point but Leitrim did enough to book their place in the June 24 encounter with Mayo.