Over the weekend of March 22-25, the Leitrim Mens B team competed in the All Ireland Pool Championships in Killarney, Kerry where they were victorious and crowned All Ireland Junior Champions.
With the Leitrim A team competing in the Senior competition and some tough competition in the Intermediate, it was in the Junior grade where Leitrim’s B team tasted glory.
The team consisted of: John Casey (Captain) Drumshanbo, Daragh McQuaid (Dromahair), Darren Phillips (Kiltubrid), Oisin O’Connor (Carrick on Shannon), Stiofan MacTighe (Ballinamore), Barry Singleton (Carrick-on-Shannon), Dave Flynn (Leitrim Village), Pa Noone (Carrick-on-Shannon), David McWeeney (Aughnasheelin), Richard Shanley (Effrinagh), Paddy Brady (Sligo) and Stephen Gordon (Dromahair).
Action started on Thursday evening at the group stages where Leitrim faced Monaghan, Leitrim started very strong in this match leading 6-3 and kept this lead throughout the match coming out victors on a 14-8 score line. This was a great start for the Leitrim team as was anticipated as potentially their toughest game.
Friday morning the Leitrim team faced Kerry, the first half of this affair was very tight with no more than 2 frames separating the team at 6-5. From here the Leitrim team pushed further and progressively increased their lead, Leitrim came out victorious on a 14-10 score line.
Leitrim faced Limerick on the Friday evening, Leitrim started the better of the two teams and stormed into a 7-0 lead and despite Limerick clawing back some frames, Leitrim won 14-4 to top the group.
In the quarter final Leitrim faced a strong Wicklow side, Leitrim had faced this team before in the Intercounty Knockout cup and lost 14-12 so Leitrim went into this match with something to prove.
Leitrim raced into an impressive 6-0 lead again they had the momentum and would be very hard to stop, Leitrim saw off the Garden County 14-4.
Leitrim B were into their first All-Ireland Semi final, they faced Cork. Cork dominated their group and reeled off some impressive victories on their way to the Semi final.
Leitrim raced onto yet another 5-0 lead vs Cork. Leitrim slowly increased their lead to 10 frames only allowing the Rebels to win one in three frames over all, 14-7. Leitrim were into the All Ireland Final that took place on Sunday evening.
In the final Leitrim faced a very strong Armagh side that had beaten some very impressive sides to reach this stage.
Armagh didn’t allow Leitrim to race into the lead and after the first session Leitrim were 5-4 down. Both sides were creating an electric atmosphere as both teams had a lot of supporters who were making their voices heard.
In the second session Leitrim won three from the first five frames in the second session , 7-7. In the final session Leitrim and Armagh shared the first two frames, Dave Flynn involved in a titanic battle where he forced a mistake and won the frame, 11-9.
Leitrim won the next two frames through Richard Shanley and Daragh McQuaid to put Leitrim 13-9 on the cusp of victory. Oisin O’Connor and Paddy Brady were the next two up - Paddy was the first to get a chance and he got himself to the black, Paddy was unfortunate to pot the black into the corner and screw the white into the middle, 13-10.
Oisin was stuck in a tactical frame but eventually he forced a mistake and took out the finish for Leitrim to be crowned champions.
What a remarkable weekend for Leitrim pool to be crowned All Ireland Champions and they will be promoted next year to Division B.
A special mention goes out to Darren Phillips who didn’t lose a frame all weekend, winning all 12 frames he played. Leitrim had four competitors at the top of the stats over the weekend 1st Darren Phillips, joint 2nd Oisin O’Connor, Dave McWeeney and Daragh McQuaid who all only dropped one frame over the weekend, Leitrim showing why they are worthy Champions.