What was expected to be a tight and keenly contested minor league 15-a-side final proved to surprisingly one sided in Pairc Sean MacDiarmada as St Manchan’s assumed control of last Friday’s decider from an early stage and dominated proceedings for the majority of the contest.
Drumkeerin did improve in the second half but they never looked as though they would be able to overturn the deficit that saw the Mohill and Eslin amalgamation register a 1-9 to 0-2 lead at the interval.
Having been the form team in the round robin series of the competition, Drumkeerin would have been slight favourites against a side who they comfortably beat in the opening round of the league, emerging 3-12 to 0-5 winners. However, as soon as the game got underway it was clear a repeat result was unlikely as St Manchan’s dominated matters from an early stage.
The opening stages were scrappy as both sides looked to get an upper hand in the contest. After five minutes of stalemate St Manchan’s struck for the opening point through Joseph Stenson and that was followed by a Darragh Gordon point as St Manchan’s looked to take control of the game.
While Drumkeerin may have been struggling to get up to the pace of the game, there were no such problems for St Manchan’s. Keith Beirne extended his side’s lead when he capitalised on a poor clearance before pointing and shortly afterwards corner-back Nathan Conboy drove at the Drumkeerin defence as he led a lightning quick counter-attack that resulted in Cathal Keegan striking to increase the lead to five points.
With just over a quarter of the game played there was still plenty of time for Drumkeerin to get back in contention but matters were to get worse as St Manchan’s further increased their lead. Powerful full-forward Niall Beirne used his strength to claim a dangerously delivered free before turning and powering his shot past Drumkeerin goalkeeper Patrick Kelly. A Darragh Gordon point moments later further extended St Manchan’s lead to leave nine points between the sides after just 17 minutes.
Looking for a way to kickstart their challenge Drumkeerin tried to go on the offensive and while Cathal McCauley was looking dangerous, Drumkeerin were struggling to really threaten.
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.