A 35 point win over arguably the worst team in the country raised few eyebrows in Pairc Sean MacDiarmada on Sunday last and while it was a case of ‘job done’ for the Leitrim players and management, the game was so one sided it is difficult to either analyse or read too much into the performance.
Having had a relatively settled team for the League campaign up to this point, Leitrim were forced to completely change the full-forward line due to injuries picked up by Adrian Croal, James Glancy and Ray Cox. With Declan Gilhooley also sidelined as a result of injury, it was an unfamiliar full-forward line with Dromahair duo Paddy McGowan and Kevin Conlan lining up alongside Emlyn Mulligan who made his long awaited return from injury.
Mulligan’s performance, finishing with a personal tally of 2-8, was arguably the most pleasing aspect of the performance as he comfortably lasted the 70 minutes and was heavily involved in much of what was good about Leitrim’s performance.
Others who haven’t seen much action this year such as Fabian McMorrow, Gavin Reynolds and James Glancy were all involved and while they all acquitted themselves well, it is difficult to truly assess their performances given the quality of the opposition.
By the time the scoring was completed for the afternoon and referee Liam Devenny brought the game to a halt, one couldn’t but feel sorry for Kilkenny. Criticism has been thrown their way in recent years from all directions but the fact that several players were unavailable to manager John McGrath as a result of senior club hurling, challenge matches being scheduled for the same day gives an indication of the obstacles faced by the footballers from the marble county.
After the disappointment of the defeat to Clare in Ennis seven days earlier and with several players ruled out through injury, last weekend was arguably the perfect time to face Clare as the result was never going to be in doubt and it served as an opportunity to inject some confidence into the team.
While the result was emphatic it could in fact have been considerably more but Leitrim registered 14 wides over the course of the game. The fact Kilkenny defended their goal with a blanket defence meant Leitrim were encouraged to shoot from distance but when the opposition is so weak it is difficult to be critical of the Leitrim players who maintained an intensity to their game for the 70 minutes.
Another difficulty Leitrim faced was the fact that the game was very stop-start, with Kilkenny players regularly going down injured and the game then being delayed while they received treatment.
On what was a perfect day for football, more in keeping with the weather associated with Championship matches rather than league football in late March, Leitrim opened up an early lead with Robbie Lowe and Emlyn Mulligan pointing.
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.