Leitrim concluded their FBD League campaign on Sunday last with a relatively comfortable victory over GMIT and when Barney Breen and George Dugdale reflect on the three games they will surely be pleased with the preparation they have been given ahead of the National League which begins on February 5.
By Philip Rooney
While a seven point victory points to a comprehensive win, the margin between the sides at the full-time whistle would have been much greater were it not for a combination of wayward shooting from some of the Leitrim players and some incredible saves from GMIT goalkeeper Paul Mannion.
The opening two games, against Mayo and Roscommon saw Leitrim start with the same 15 on both occasions but last Sunday in Strokestown the management opted to introduce some new faces and a total of three changes were made with Philip Farrelly, Colm McGowan and Gavin Reynolds all making their first appearances of the year.
The opening stages of the game saw GMIT play with an intensity that was lacking from Roscommon a week earlier in Ballinamore but as the half wore on Leitrim eased into control without ever playing to their full potential.
James Glancy was arguably Leitrim’s player of the game, he was a constant thorn in the side of the GMIT defence, chasing lost causes, bringing others into play and showing plenty of confidence in front of the posts. Glancy finished the game with a personal tally of 0-5 but on another day that could have been considerably more as he found Mannion in excellent form and was also off target with some of his efforts.
Another who stood out for Leitrim was midfielder Paddy McGowan who along with Wayne McKeon was instrumental in driving his side forward from deep positions. McGowan was withdrawn at the interval but was re-introduced after nine minutes of the second half and Leitrim looked a better side with him on the pitch.
Once again Alan Wynne impressed but this time it was not just his defensive capabilities which were noteworthy. It was Wynne who scored the only goal of the game in the second minute of injury time at the end of the first half and he regularly found himself in advanced positions contributing to the attack.
George Dugdale spoke after the game about being not overly impressed with his side’s performance in the opening half and it was GMIT who brought the intensity to the contest that Dugdale and Breen would have been looking for.
Niall Prenty opened the scoring in the third minute after an incisive move that was started by Carrigallen’s Eoin Ward.
Leitrim’s opening score arrived two minutes later and involved some quick thinking as Gerry Hickey spotted an excellent run from Wayne McKeon and delivered a quick free into his path. McKeon then found Ray Cox who scored a terrific point to level matters.
Undoubtedly GMIT’s best performer on the day was Galway native Jonathan Ryan and he helped edge GMIT back in front when he pointed after a patient build-up although the Leitrim management would know doubt have been frustrated by the absence of any real tackles as GMIT strung together a series of short passes before Ryan slotted the ball over the bar.
Drumkeerin’s Colm Clarke, who was operating as a wing-back, a position in which he looked very comfortable, as he did against Roscommon, levelled matters when he scored an excellent point from all of 45 metres.
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.