The Leitrim Ladies secured their place in the Connacht Intermediate Championship Final with a hard fought victory over Roscommon last Friday.
On an evening when Ballinamore was basked in sunshine the opening half proved to be a war of attrition in a largely uninspiring opening 30 minutes.
The sound of the referee’s whistle was the most memorable feature of that half but when the game opened up in the second half it became a more enjoyable contest.
While Aine Tighe was once again crucial to her side’s cause it was the impact of centre back Lorraine Brennan which was really pivotal and those behind her in the full-back line all had a big say in proceedings while goalkeeper Michelle Guckian’s incredible double save will live long in the memory of all who witnessed it.
Roscommon, who were marginally better in that half, opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a Martina Freyne free before Tighe replied with two frees in quick succession to give Leitrim the lead.
The first score from play arrived in the eight minute when Jenny Higgins pointed after incisive play involving Emer Callaghan and Siobhan Tully and Jenny Higgins was on hand to level matters.
Leitrim edged back in front when Aine Tighe converted a free after she was fouled but chances were proving to be at a premium for Leitrim.
Michelle Guckian’s incredible double save midway through the half maintained Leitrim’s lead but Roscommon levelled when Jenny Downey converted a free and they retook the lead. That completed the first half scoring with Roscommon leading 0-4 to 0-3.
The second half was a much more open affair and a much more enjoyable spectacle.
Aine Tighe opened the second half scoring with a well taken point, Leitrim’s first from play before Roscommon replied with a Jenny Downey free and a Claire Raftery point to retake the lead.
Nine minutes into the second half both sides were reduced to 14 players when Deirdre Ward and Caitriona Regan were both shown yellow cards. Leitrim coped much better with the loss of a key player and two minutes later they struck for a decisive goal.
Aine Tighe’s quick turn of pace saw her carve her way through the defence before firing her shot past Carol Manning.
Midway through the second half Leitrim took a big step towards securing their place in the final when they struck for their second goal.
Anna Conlan’s shot from distance seemed as though it would have been straight forward for the goalkeeper but possibly blinded by the sun, the ball squirmed away from Manning and into the goal.
That score put Leitrim four points clear and two late Roisin Fowley points put the result beyond doubt.
Leitrim: Michelle Guckian, Mary Farrell, Sharon Kerrigan, Finnuala Bohan, Alanna Bohan, Lorraine Brennan, Enya McWeeney, Sarah McLoughlin, Anna Conlan (1-0), Deirdre Ward, Claire Owens, Cirara McPartland, Roisin Fowley (0-2), Aine Tighe (1-4), Michelle Heslin. Subs: Sinead Tighe for McPartland (HT), Melissa Hewitt for Ward (59), Claire Rowley for Heslin (60).
Roscommon: Carol Manning, Feena Beirne, Sarah Brady, Claire Raftery (0-1), Niamh O’Beirne, Amanda McLoone, Ruth Finlass, Caitriona Regan, Sinead Kenny, Emer Callaghan, Jenny Higgins (0-1), Laura Fleming, Siobhan Tully, Martina Freyne (0-1), Jenny Downey (0-3). Subs: Gillian Dufficey for Freyne (43), Sorcha Bruen for Raftery (50), Caoileann Beirne for Fleming (55), Rachel Timothy for Manning (56).
Referee: John Niland (Sligo)