Leitrim do just enough to beat resilient exiles

If any Leitrim supporters had thoughts of the Connacht Championship meeting with London on June 3 being a mere formality then last Sunday’s Allianz League Division 4 clash issued a stark reminder that the exiles will take some beating. A five point win and two more championship points on the board points to a good afternoon’s work but in reality there aren’t many more positives that can be taken from the game.

If any Leitrim supporters had thoughts of the Connacht Championship meeting with London on June 3 being a mere formality then last Sunday’s Allianz League Division 4 clash issued a stark reminder that the exiles will take some beating. A five point win and two more championship points on the board points to a good afternoon’s work but in reality there aren’t many more positives that can be taken from the game.

Leitrim 1-10

London 0-8

By Philip Rooney

It was hoped that last Sunday’s game would offer some of the walking wounded an opportunity to return to action and while Tomas Beirne did play for 20 minutes, the loss of James Glancy to a hip injury was of far greater significance as he was one of Leitrim’s better players. Fortunately the initial diagnosis was that Glancy will be able to take his place in the team to face Clare next weekend.

The long awaited re-emergence of Emlyn Mulligan in a Leitrim jersey had to be put on hold with Leitrim manager Barney Breen confirming after the game that the Melvin Gaels man has suffered a cracked rib meaning he may now not be ready until Leitrim host Kilkenny on March 25.

The introduction of Tomas Beirne for the final 20 minutes of the game was certainly one positive to be taken from the game, but the Eslin man is still some way from full match fitness and sharpness and he struggled to make any meaningful contribution during his time on the pitch.

The first half was full of mistakes and never had a chance to flow as Leitrim looked like a side who hadn’t had a competitive fixture in four weeks while London were evidently determined to get back on track after suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of Carlow a week earlier.

Throughout the pitch there was plenty of endeavour but there were far too many mistakes from both sides. Simple passes went astray while over ambitious passes were regularly sent in to the arms of a grateful defender.

The game did improve to an extent after the break with Leitrim seemingly playing with an greater urgency as they tried to up the tempo in the game. However, London proved to be dogged opponents, who gave a glimpse of what can be expected in early June. Eoin O’Neill, Michael Mullins and Lorcan Mulvey all impressed and it wasn’t until the final quarter of the game that Leitrim were able to put the game beyond their opponents.

The start that Leitrim made to the game gave the impression of a side with nerves not fully settled and the handling and distribution during the opening exchanges fell well below the standard that would be expected.

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