Leitrim capitulated to a well organised and more committed Longford outfit in the second half of Saturday's Hastings Cup game at Cavan's Breffni Park's 3G Astroturf pitch in a game during which visibility was very much hampered for both sides by a thick blanket of fog.
U-21 HASTINGS CUP
However in the first half Leitrim gave as good, as they got, in the showdown with Longford and only trailed by a point at the break. But Longford blasted Leitrim's challenge out of the water in the first 13 minutes of the second half when they shot five unanswered points.
Despite the almost double scores defeat by Longford, Leitrim's overall performance in this clash was still an improvement on what Mickey Moran's men turned in against Roscommon in their opening Hastings Cup game, a week earlier in Ballinamore.
The Achilles heel of Leitrim in their outings so far in this competition has been the team's inability to deliver sufficient scores that would seriously test their rivals in the race to contend for outright victory at the finish line.
Corner back Shane Ryan was Leitrim's best performer against Longford. The Melvin Gaels man time and again snuffed out and tidied up dangers situations created by the Longford forwards in Leitrim's last line of defence while he also made an important goal line save near the end.
Leitrim keeper Philip Farrelly, who kept a clean sheet over the hour, came to his side's rescue on a number of occasions with some assured saves. A reliable James O'Brien also impressed at fullback.
Leitrim struggled at midfield and particularly so in the second half but Niall O'Connor did show some promise in this sector. In attack, Eoin Ward and Morgan Quinn were perhaps the side's most effective players but the overall failure of the forwards to deliver a higher number of scores needs to be addressed at once.
Conor Beirne was Leitrim's best sub after his introduction and he also accounted for a second half point. With the Connacht championship semi-final against the winners of Roscommon and Mayo on Saturday, March 19 Leitrim's most important game of the year the current Hastings Cup series is undoubtedly being used to find the county's best 15 for that encounter.
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