The Leitrim sporting year will undoubtedly be remembered for the victory over Sligo in the Connacht Championship. Leitrim entered the game in Markievicz Park in May as rank outsiders with almost everybody outside the Leitrim camp not giving the team in Green & Gold a prayer.
However, as all who were present in Sligo that day in May will recall, Leitrim more than rose to the occasion as they claimed a memorable victory, their first over one of the “home counties” since the win over Sligo in 2005.
Conor Beirne’s all-important goal was the difference between the sides as Sligo attempted to respond to Leitrim’s strong start but a Leitrim defence held strong and the final whistle signalled scenes of celebration that will live long in the memory.
That victory ensured Leitrim would once again face the old enemy Roscommon in Pairc Sean MacDiarmada in June. While not many were willing to give Leitrim a hope against Sligo, confidence soared within the county and the players seemed equally confident that if they played to their potential they would reach their first Connacht Final since 2000.
Ultimately, Fergal O’Donnell’s charges proved much too strong for a Leitrim side that failed to recapture the spark and creativity that won so many plaudits against Sligo. The manner of the defeat, the ‘Rossies’ winning by 12 points, left the players, management and supporters baffled.
Some pride was restored when Mickey Moran’s charges faced Down in the qualifiers but the task of keeping Benny Coulter and co. quiet for the entire game proved too much as Leitrim were beaten by eight points.
Disciplinary problems cast an unwanted shadow over the County side throughout the year with the dropping of Wayne McKeon, Tomas & Conor Beirne caused massive shock-waves throughout the county.
With the shock resignation of Mickey Moran due to illness, Leitrim have suffered a body blow but a harder blow is the expected absence of several first choice players from last year’s campaign with Ronan Gallagher, Shane Foley, Annaduff’s Dermot Reynolds among those expected to be overseas this year.
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.