Fenagh's Ryan O'Rourke is pursued by Leitrim Gaels' James Flynn. Photo by Willie Donnellan
Inspired by the excellent Conor Guckian and Eunan Treacy, a superb Leitrim Gaels stormed into the Fox Monumentals Intermediate Championship for the first time ever in great style.
Aidan Flynn's goal after halftime put Leitrim Gaels in command and given the quality of this display, spoiled only by some poor finishing, the Gaels are very definitely a major contender for the title.
Ryan O’Rourke opened the scoring from a free after just 40 seconds, a foul on Riordan O’Rourke but Eunan Treacy replied with a free following a foul on Aidan Flynn as the Gaels then went on a wide spree, hitting four in a row in as many minutes.
Fenagh had two wides themselves but Donal Wrynn pounced on a poor kickout, played a one-two and fired over from a tight angle on 13 minutes before a good Jack Gilheaney pass freed Diarmuid McHugh for a good point.
Eunan Treacy stopped the rot for the Gaels with a brilliant free from the left corner, a fabulous score but Fenagh hit back seconds later with a fine score from Ryan O’Rourke as they led by two and seemed to be taking control of the match.
But then came a calamitous error for Fenagh - Eunan Treacy directed a long ball towards Conor Guckian but it flew over his head. Unfortunately for Fenagh, keeper Killian McLoughlin made an attempt to catch the ball, coming off his line, leaping high but missing the ball that flew untouched into the net.
The Gaels knew their good fortune and made the most of it, Colm Moreton scoring from somewhere around the 55 yard mark, a monster effort, but Ryan O’Rourke, after a long solo run, replied with a fine score on 20 minutes.
David Bruen tried another long shot, McLoughlin batted it clear and as Fenagh missed a couple of chances, Colm Moreton put another monster shot over to leave Leitrim Gaels 1-4 to 0-5 ahead at the break.
Fenagh needed a good start but fantastic persistence from Liam Moreton saw him win a ball he shouldn’t have in the first minute. A couple of quick passes later and the ball was in the net, a fantastic low finish to the far corner from Aidan Flynn setting the Gaels on the road to the semi-finals.
Two wides followed before Treacy converted his third free while Brendan Flynn did well to bat the ball clear in difficult circumstances. Colm Moreton then blasted a free from what looked like 60 yards high over the Fenagh bar and the gap was now seven points.
Donal Wrynn pulled on a ball from distance but it was easily gathered by Brendan Flynn before, 13 minutes into the second half, Fenagh got their first score of the second period with a Ryan O’Rourke free. Colm Moreton hit a free off the woodwork but momentum seemed to be shifting when Riordan O’Rourke’s good work in the corner led to a point for Jack Gilheaney.
But when they looked back at this game, Fenagh will point to Riordan O’Rourke’s missed goal chance as when the game was lost, a high ball into the area breaking off Donal Wrynn but the ball skimmed the outside of the bar from close range, Fenagh supporters already celebrating what they thought was a certain goal.
A great Conor Guckian catch from the kickout led directly to Eunan Treacy firing over but Fenagh immediately hit back with a good Michael Doonan point, good work from Riordan O’Rourke.
Both sides missed chances, Ryan O’Rourke hitting two bad efforts while Shaun Chandler was booked, perhaps for dissent after a harsh free, with O’Rourke converting.
That left the gap at four points but there was never any chance of a comeback as Aaron McLoughlin set up Eunan Treacy for a lovely point before the sharpshooter set the seal on a fine performance with a sixth point in the final minute.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Main Man: A tie between Conor Guckian and Eunan Treacy with Colm Moreton and James Flynn close behind. Guckian and Treacy were key while for a disappointing Fenagh, Donal Wrynn tried hard but it was a day where they didn't fire.
Talking Point: That Leitrim Gaels are going to be a Senior team is not in doubt. I thought it might be a little bit off as their new young players mature but on this display, it won't be long before they are in the Senior Championship ranks.
Turning Point: Aidan Flynn's expertly taken goal just after halftime changed this game. The Gaels could flood their defence and hit on the break, which they did with aplomb. But if Riordan O'Rourke had found the net with 12 minutes left, who knows what might have happened?
Ref Watch: Ray McBrien had a solid enough game in difficult, wet and slippery conditions. May have missed one or two things and could be a little distant from play but didn't affect the result.
Highlight: Colm Moreton hit three incredible long range points, only one from a free, that were truly remarkable while the fielding of Conor Guckian in the second half was the foundation Leitrim Gaels built their victory on.
Lowlight: Poor finishing let both teams down, it stopped Fenagh from getting back into the game but really and truly, it stopped Leitrim Gaels from showing how dominant they were on the field.
TEAMS & SCORERS
Scorers: Eunan Treacy 1-6, 4f; Colm Moreton 0-3, 1f; Aidan Flynn 1-0
Team: Brendan Flynn, Paddy Flynn, James Flynn, Michael McWeeney, David Bruen, Bryan Treacy, Brian McElgunn, Liam Moreton, Colm Moreton, Eunan Treacy, Aaron McLoughlin, Aidan Flynn, Enda Moreton, Conor Guckian, Shaun Chandler. Subs: Ryan Goldrick for McWeeney (26), Narada Patrasco for Goldrick (40), Stephen McDermott for McElgunn (52)
FENAGH ST. CAILLIN’S
Scorers: Ryan O’Rourke 0-5, 3f; Donal Wrynn, Diarmuid McHugh, Michael Doonan & Jack Gilheany 0-1 each
Team: Killian McLoughlin, Ronan Ellis, Richard Heaney, Diarmuid McHugh, Aaron McLoughlin, Jarlath Scollan, Martin Doonan, Donal Wrynn, Jack Gilheaney, Alan Doonan, Nathan O’Rourke, Aaron Scollan, Michael Doonan, Ryan O’Rourke, Riordan O’Rourke. Subs: Sean McLoughlin for Scollan (39), Caillin O’Rourke for N. O’Rourke (44)
Referee: Ray McBrien