Qualifiers blow as Wayne McKeon leaves panel ahead of Down clash

Letirim’s hopes of a first ever All-Ireland Football Championship Qualifiers victory have been dealt a blow after it was confirmed that star half-back Wayne McKeon has left the County Senior team panel ahead of the clash with Down in Newry on Saturday week, July 9.

Letirim’s hopes of a first ever All-Ireland Football Championship Qualifiers victory have been dealt a blow after it was confirmed that star half-back Wayne McKeon has left the County Senior team panel ahead of the clash with Down in Newry on Saturday week, July 9.

By John Connolly

After rumours spread around the county like wildfire over the weekend, the Leitrim Observer has learned that the Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin’s clubman, awarded the RTE Man of the Match award after a scintilating display against Sligo last month in Markievicz Park, is no longer a member of the County Senior team panel.

With an unenviable record of never having won a Qualifier game, the absence of Wayne McKeon will make Leitrim’s task all the harder on Saturday week in Newry against last year’s defeated All-Ireland finalists, a team who lost out to eventual champions Cork by just a point and were unlucky to do so.

The GAA have fixed a 3 pm throw-in time for the game in Newry, meaning an early start for Leitrim fans thinking of making the long cross-country journey to the famed Down venue.

Although Leitrim would normally expect a home game in this year’s Qualifiers, particularly after the trip to Newbridge last year to face Kildare, the fact that Down were drawn out of the hat first and had travelled to Cusack Park in Ennis last weekend for their first round encounter with Clare means it is the Mourne Men who will enjoy home advantage on Saturday week.

Down, however, will not be treating the Leitrim game lightly as it took a spectacular last gasp diving save from corner-forward Conor Laverty to ensure the Ulster team’s victory as they held out for a fortutious 1-13 to 1-12 victory.

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