They didn’t need a second invitation to reach the GWP Intermediate Championship Final as Gortletteragh finally lived up to their pre-match billing by over-whelming an under-strength but game Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher in the replay in Pairc Sheain Ui Eslin, Ballinamore last Sunday.
Handed a dramatic reprieve in the drawn game by a dramatic if somewhat controversial Cathal McCrann free, Gortletteragh made sure there would be no doubt about the result last Sunday as they physically dominated a spirited Glenfarne.
With a battered line-up and down three starters from the drawn game, Glenfarne/Kiltyclogher must be full of regret for what might have been after the drawn game but no matter how much they battled and how much they fought last Sunday, Gortletteragh always had the edge.
For their spirit and the way they refused to lie down, the nine point margin is a little unfair on the north Leitrim men but in all reality, Gortletteragh were worth their victory and had they shown a bit more composure in attack to match their defensive solidity, this would have been a cake-walk.
With Cathal McCrann leading the way in a hard fought first half, Gortletteragh physical strength was a huge asset – Cathal Quinn & Mark Duignan dominated midfield and a defensive unit where Ciaran Egan, Terry Kelleher, Niall Duffy and Seamus Prunty excelled.
As Glenfarne’s young and light players tried to work their short passing game in confined spaces, Gortletteragh excelled in closing them down and it was notable how often the north Leitrim men were forced into kicking the ball away or over the side-line.
That sort of pressure and possession gave Gortletteragh a good platform and even if the spirit of the north Leitrim men brought them back into contention midway through the half, the pace of Darren Duignan in attack was something that Glenfarne were never able to cope with.
Duignan ended up with 2-4, the first goal somewhat fortunate as his shot caught out the keeper and bounced over his head but his second demonstrated the former county man at his best, speeding away from the defence and drilling home from close range.
As much as they dominated, Gortletteragh will be slightly worried that they were threatened midway through the second half but Glenfarne as they failed to put away a game they should have much earlier and no doubt Dromahair, who had quite a few interested observers in Ballinamore, will pose a much stiffer physical challenge in the final.
The result, however, puts Gortletteragh back where they want to be and if they draw some inspiration from the last team to reach two Intermediate finals in a row, they will hope to follow Aughawillan into the Senior ranks after the final on Saturday week.
Cathal McCrann got Gortletteragh off to a flyer after good work from Niall Woods in the first minute while Glenfarne’s response saw Enda Gallagher’s effort rebound clear off the woodwork. Gortletteragh continued to make and waste chances before McCrann added another on ten minutes.
McCrann got his third, a massive 60 yard free into the two end on 14 minutes while Gortletteragh’s had a great chance of a goal only for Gerard Campbell to drag his shot wide left of the goal.
But they didn’t have long to wait for a goal and for the second time at the town end, a keeper was deceived by a long ball, this time Daragh Keaney getting caught out by Darren Duignan’s effort that bounced over the keeper and into the net on 18 minutes.
Niall Duffy became only the second Gortletteragh point scorer four minutes later when he ventured up from corner-back to get on the end of a good move to score before Padraig Sweeney ensured Glenfarne/Kilty would not end the half scoreless by converting a free.
Gortletteragh had the last word in the half, Niall Woods tapping over a well taken point as Glenfarne/Kilty struggled to stay in touch.
Gortletteragh almost opened with a goal as Niall Woods burst through the middle but defender John Sheerin appeared to get away with a foot-block and clear the danger. The north Leitrim men began a surge with James Murray putting over two free and Patrick Kilkenny scoring a brilliant point by the 14th minute.
Glenfarne/Kilty should have had a further point, however, as the umpires ruled what from the vantage point of the press box looked like a good Padraig Sweeney effort wide.
But having absorbed a bit of pressure, Gortletteragh hit back with points from Darren Duignan (2) and Kevin McGrath before Duignan put the seal on the win with seven minutes to go when Glenfarne got caught out with a silly free, Cathal Quinn intercepted and Duignan sped in to toe poke the ball past Keaney.
Duignan went on to add two more points, the second after he pulled on a loose ball some 35 yards out, and Glenfarne got the consolation goal they deserved when Sean McLoughlin managed to force the ball into the Gortletteragh net after a Padraig Sweeney free was lost by the keeper.
Conan Clarke, Niall Duffy (0-1), Seamus Prunty, Mark Mitchell, Terry Kelleher, Ciaran Egan, James Campbell, Mark Duignan, Cathal Quinn, Eamon Reynolds, Cathal McCrann (0-3), Gerard Campbell, Kevin McGrath (0-1), Niall Woods (0-1), Darren Duignan (2-4). Subs: Colm Duffy for Reynolds (42 mins), Padraig McGarry for McGrath (58 mins), Simon Egan & John Reynolds for Mitchell & Campbell (59 mins), Gavin Mitchell for McCrann (63 mins).
Daragh Keaney, Stephen Sweeney, Ciaran Clancy, Stephen Sheerin, Ronan McGowan, Sean McLoughlin, Robert Broughton, Niall Clancy, Dermot Harkin, Conor O’Rourke, Stephen McManus, Patrick Kilkenny (0-1), Padraig Sweeney (1-1), Enda Gallagher, James Murray (0-2). Subs: Rory McLoughlin for O’Rourke (23 mins), Cian Rock for S. McManus (45 mins), Daire Clancy for Gallagher (49 mins).
Referee: James McCaffrey.