Its hard to believe, given the final score, that five minutes into the second half of last Saturday’s John Miller Connacht Minor Ladies Championship, Leitrim led by six points and seemed set for a famous victory as a largely second string Mayo outfit staged a remarkable fight-back to snatch victory.
Leitrim 5-8 Mayo 4-16
In what could easily be described as insulting to the home side in Leitrim Gaels Community Field, Mayo started with none of their first 15, fielding an entire second string outfit in a game that meant little to either side.
However, when Leitrim led by six points, Mayo made a triple substitution of three first choice players and suddenly five unanswered points had a rampant Leitrim unable to get out of their own half and the game back in the balance.
With their stars on the field, Mayo would go on to score 4-9 after the three subs in a stunning and devastating reverse for the Leitrim Minor Ladies.
You can debate whether Mayo were showing Leitrim no respect or not but if they truly wanted to see how the second string performed, they wouldn’t have brought on the big guns to devastate the home side.
Mayo opened with two frees but Leitrim responded in fantastic fashion when Ann Marie Gallagher lofted a long range shot over the keeper and then finished off a good move for a fine goal. Shauna Clancy and Clionadh Reynolds both added points in the first ten minutes.
The impressive Shauna Clancy, who always looked dangerous, drove home a third goal and struck a thunderous shot off the crossbar on 17 minutes but Mayo gave a sign of their threat with five unanswered points before halftime to leave Leitrim leading by four points, 3-2 to 0-7.
With the wind behind them, Leitrim were hopeful of a rare victory over Mayo and a good point from Clancy and a third Gallagher goal, the Mayo keeper denying the impressive Niamh Feely with a good save and Gallagher driving home.
But Mayo took action, bringing on Grace Kelly, Aine O’Reilly and Lydia Rainey and it gave the visitors an instant impact as Shelly O’Grady fired home a goal. Shauna Clancy replied with a point as a goal appeared on but Mayo were on a charge and as they camped in the Leitrim half, they reeled off six unanswered points over the next 12 minutes.
A Shauna Clancy point halted Mayo’s charge to put Leitrim one up with 12 minutes to go but with Mayo in devastating form, two goals in the space of two minutes from Ailish Healy seemed to kill off Leitrim’s challenge.
But showing great resolve, Leitrim fought back with Ann Marie Gallagher scoring 1-2 in the space of an incredible minute to cut Mayo’s lead to a point but the visitors weren’t long in hitting back, Fiona Treacy goaling from a very tight angle as Mayo added two more points before Ann Marie Gallagher tapped over a late free.