Leitrim Gaels Eunan Treacy is tackled by Drumkeerin's Jason Byrne. Photo by Willie Donnellan
If anyone doubted they are genuine contenders for the Fox Monumentals Intermediate Championship, nobody is doubting Leitrim Gaels now after they won a thriller with Drumkeerin last Sunday in Ballinamore.
Just where to start with this game is impossible but the last ten minutes might seem like a good place. Drumkeerin trailing by two points and looking dead on their feet somehow hit two wonderful points from Cathal McCauley to draw level with Leitrim Gaels.
With the crowd going mad, Jamie Langan shot inches wides as Drumkeerin sought to take the lead. It proved a costly wide as Leitrim Gaels settled and then drove on, hitting three wonderful late points to seal a first ever place in the Leitrim Intermediate Final.
But even that synopsis doesn’t do justice to this game - the Gaels were dominating early on but a brilliant blast of 1-6 either side of halftime had last year’s beaten finalists seemingly heading for a meeting with Aughnasheelin on Sunday week in the County Final.
But in an instant, it all changed when Liam Moreton plundered a goal from nothing before Man of the Match Conor Guckian drove the Gaels forward, landed two huge points and driving his team to an unanswered 1-5.
This was a thrilling game that swung one way and then the other and answered a lot of questions about the Gaels reaction to pressure, so much so that they may actually be favourites for the Final!
The early exchanges suggested Leitrim Gaels were scoring a little bit easier than Drumkeerin but it was still close as Jamie Langan and James Gallagher (Corry) were on target for the north Leitrim men and Shaun Chandler, Aidan Flynn and Eunan Treacy were all on target in the first seven minutes.
Drumkeerin started to dominate but hit some bad wides and Treacy made them pay with a second free on 16 minutes. It was then Leitrim Gaels turn to hit bad wides although Drumkeerin were still guilty before Gallagher and Eddie McTiernan were both on target within a minute.
Cathal McCauley made use a poor kickout to fire over a point but Treacy hit back with a free to leave a point between the teams.
The game was transformed five minutes before the break when Jamie Langan somehow squeezed a shot past defender and keeper from a very tight angle for a brilliant goal that left the halftime score at 1-5 to 0-5.
Drumkeerin absolutely blitzed the first two minutes of the second half as sub Aidan Dolan, Colm Clarke and Langan all blasted over huge points in the opening two minutes.
Leitrim Gaels looked shell-shocked but their hopes got a huge shot of adrenaline when Liam Moreton chased a poor ball out towards the wing, turned his man, soloed in and slipped a low shot past Kevin Forde for a dramatic goal six minutes into the half.
Leitrim Gaels were transformed and Treacy swept over two frees and Conor Guckian two more brilliant points after powerful runs while Liam Moreton fired over a huge point, all this while there was still goalmouth action at either end.
Drumkeerin look buried but amidst hysteria in the stands, Cathal McCauley fired over two wonderful points to tie the score. Aidan Flynn surged from a kickout to fist over, Jamie Langan missed by a matter of inches.
With tempers flaring, a couple of players were lucky to avoid a heavy sanction, Aidan Flynn getting a black card but a fine point from Shaun Chandler and a Treacy free sealed a famous Leitrim Gaels win.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Main Man: Conor Guckian delivered another outstanding performance and drove Leitrim Gaels forward while Shaun Chandler, Liam Moreton, Eunan Treacy and James Flynn were very good. Jason Byrne was outstanding for Drumkeerin while Jerome Maguire, Thomas Rogan, Felim McHugh, Jamie Langan and Declan Daly all impressed.
Talking Point: This was a thrilling contest and one that reinforces Leitrim Gaels credentials as potential champions, certainly their tactical nous and physical strength are mightily impressive.
Turning Point: Liam Moreton's 36th minute goal turned the tide for Leitrim Gaels after Drumkeerin looked to be running away with the game.
Ref Watch: Ray McBrien might have penalised a few off the ball fouls more severely, in fairness he was unsighted for one incident and the linesmen failed to bring his attention to it.
Highlight: The twists and turns in this game and excitement in the last ten minutes was what the championship is all about as the crowd were wrapped up in the excitement.
Lowlight: Hard to find any real fault as two teams went all out for victory. Shooting let some players down but there was enormous pressure in a game that went down to the wire.
TEAMS & SCORERS
Scorers: Eunan Treacy 0-6, 6f; Liam Moreton 1-1; Shaun Chandler, Aidan Flynn & Conor Guckian 0-2 each
Team: Brendan Flynn, Paddy Flynn, James Flynn, Paul Regan, David Bruen, Bryan Treacy, Brian McElgunn, Liam Moreton, Colm Moreton, Aaron McLoughlin, Eunan Treacy, Aidan Flynn, Enda Moreton, Conor Guckian, Shaun Chandler. Subs: Michael McWeeney for Treacy (33), Michael McManus for E. Moreton (38), Ryan Goldrick for McElgunn (57), Narada Patrasco for A. Flynn (61 BC)
Scorers: Jamie Langan 1-2; Cathal McCauley 0-3; James Gallagher 0-2; Colm Clarke, Eddie McTiernan (f) & Aidan Dolan 0-1 each
Team: Kevin Forde, Thomas Rogan, Felim McHugh, Glen Kavanagh, Darragh Flynn, Jason Byrne, Luke Fee, Declan Daly, Colm Clarke, Seamus McNama, James Gallagher (Corry), Eddie McTiernan, Jamie Langan, Cathal McCauley, Jerome Maguire. Subs: Aidan Dolan for Fee (HT), James Gallagher (Creevelea) for Maguire (40), Ciaran White for McNama (52)
Referee: Ray McBrien