The Leitrim ladies put the disappointment of the defeat to Armagh last month well and truly behind them on Sunday last when they recorded their third victory of this year’s Bord Gais Energy National League Division 3 as they beat All-Ireland Intermediate champions Westmeath.
By Philip Rooney
Leitrim manager Niall Kilcrann had previously described Pairc Sean Ui hEslin in Ballinamore as a “fortress” for the Leitrim ladies and that was certainly the case on Sunday last as they withstood fierce pressure and a strong breeze to hold a three point lead at the break and in the second half they played with great fluidity, registered some great scores and defended extremely impressively to record a deserved win.
There were moments of concern for Leitrim in the closing stages of the game as Westmeath, who had been reduced to 13 players following yellow cards for Jenny Rogers and Johann Maher threw everything at Leitrim in the closing stages. In injury time Leitrim led by six points and victory seemed assured but Westmeath refused to throw in the towel and by the time they had reduced the deficit to two points, the nerves of most Leitrim supporters in Ballinamore were hanging by a thread.
Aine Tighe was the main attacking threat for Leitrim once again but the home side proved they are far more than a one player team. Erin Farrell registered some fine scores while Kiara Keegan worked tirelessly for her team.
In midfield Deirdre Ward and Sinead Fowley were once again hugely instrumental for Leitrim and even though Leitrim were forced to play for 10 minutes without Fowley when she was issued with a yellow card shortly before half-time, both players were pivotal to Leitrim’s success. Another who excelled for Leitrim was Lorraine Brennan who operated in a deeper position, picking up breaking ball between her own half-back line and midfield.
The side of a successful team that often doesn’t get the credit it deserves is the defence and it would be fair to say that if the Leitrim defence had been below par in Ballinamore, Westmeath would have been emerged victorious. Sinead Tighe and Enya McWeeney both had fine games but it was corner back Mairead Stenson who did as much as anybody to ensure victory for her side. Time after time in the opening half Westmeath attacks were broken up by Stenson in dangerous positions and her distribution of the ball was excellent throughout the game, helping her side turn defence into attack on numerous occasions.
Before the game got underway there was a minute’s silence, in memory of Sandra Earley, who tragically passed away recently. Sandra was well known in footballing circles in the county, having won all underage meadals for Kiltubrid ladies as well as a number of senior and intermediate titles. Sandra also represented Leitrim with distinction and her sudden death was marked with a perfectly observed minute’s silence.
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.