A Leitrim player tries to evade a Louth opponent. Photo by Willie Donnellan
Goals win games and a clinical Louth had the goal touch last Saturday in Glennon Brothers Pearse Park as four goals ended Leitrim’s challenge in the Fr Manning Plate Final.
A late Leitrim scoring flurry that landed an unanswered 1-3 took some gloss off an impressive Louth display but Enda Lyons’ team were left ruing their inability to prevent Louth’s goal burst.
Leitrim threatened late in the first half when a sustained period of pressure got them back into the game, closing a four point gap to one before Louth midfielder Ryan Walsh ran three quarters the length of the field to score Louth’s second goal.
That goal killed off Leitrim and a third goal, shortly after halftime, virtually ended the game as a contest.
Louth got off to a quick start with Cathal Fleming overcoming two fouls to point on the run on three minutes, Daire Nally following up with a point. Leitrim’s account was opened by Caolan Clancy as he pounced on a poor clearance but Nally punished a foul on Micheal Begley with a free.
Jamie Quinn replied with a free but Louth took control when Daire Nally twice dispossessed Leitrim players trying to gather the ball, two quick passes later and Jonathan Commins hammered the ball to the net from close range.
Leitrim almost grabbed an instant response when Caolan Clancy played a clever one-two from a free but his low shot hammered off the post and was cleared.
Leitrim were enjoying a good spell and despite a point from Nally, four points from Tom Prior (2), an Oisin Bohan free and Clancy left just a point between the sides with four minutes of the half left.
Louth were threatening and it took a last gasp block to deny Sean Healy a goal. The goal, however, did arrive just seconds into added time at the end of the first period, the impressive Daire Nally setting up the equally impressive Ryan Walsh for a great goal.
That left Louth 2-4 to 0-6 in front at the break and a Walsh free quickly extended the gap, although an Oisin Bohan free for Leitrim negated that gain.
The game was as good as over just two minutes into the second half when a remarkable goal from Craig Lennon saw him solo, under pressure the entire time, from the halfway line before hammering the ball to the Leitrim net.
James Harper took note on the other side and a solo from his own half ended up the half-back pointing. Diarmuid Kelleher replied for Leitrim with a good point but Louth pulled well clear with points from Ryan Walsh, Ruairi Hannon and Craig Lennon with only a Tom Prior score in response for Leitrim.
Keeper Sean Reynolds made a good save to deny Louth sub Eoghan Ryan but Louth completed their scoring when Leitrim lost the ball in the middle of the park, a long ball into space found Sean Healy and he finished with ease.
With the gap at 12 points, Leitrim threw caution to the wind and finished with an unanswered 1-3, Jamie Quinn hit two frees, Caolan Clancy pointing before he grabbed what amounted to no more than a consolation goal over four minutes into added time.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Main Man: Caolan Clancy, Donal Casey, Eoin McLoughlin, Tom Prior and Jack Hughes, before injury, carried the game to Louth with Clancy looking a real prospect.
Talking Point: Development is key at this age and Leitrim were missing a few important players. But it was still staggering to see Louth turn up with an incredible 41 players for their team photo - all decked out correctly and clearly driven for the future.
Turning Point: Louth's second goal came just after Leitrim had patiently worked their way back into the game and sat just a point in arrears. The goal punctured Leitrim's optimism and showed the class Louth had in attack.
Ref Watch: Louth were unhappy with some of the decisions from referee David Tiernan from Longford, particularly his decisions to book a lot of Louth players before belatedly booking a Leitrim player. Hard to disagree with them but he didn't in any way affect the result.
Highlight: Any football lover would have relished the silky skills of Louth's Daire Nally while in the first half, Caolan Clancy looked his equal.
Lowlight: Two of the Louth goals came from runs from their own half, the others from turnovers.
TEAMS & SCORERS
Scorers: Caolan Clancy 1-3; Tom Prior & Jamie Quinn (3f) 0-3 each; Oisin Bohan 0-2, 2f; Diarmuid Kelleher 0-1
Team: Sean Reynolds; Tom McKeon, Donal Casey, Shane McGloin; Niall Keegan, Eoin McLoughlin, Francis McGovern; Jack Hughes, Colin Moran; Daniel Maguire, Caolan Clancy, Tom Prior; Oisin Bohan, Jamie Quinn, Diarmuid Kellegher. Subs: Shafik Oubihi for Maguire (35), Oisin Niblock for Hughes (38), Francis Shanley for McLoughlin (45), Conal McGovern for McGovern (52), Peter Connolly for Bohan (56)
Scorers: Ryan Walsh 1-2, 1f; Craig Lennon 1-1; Daire Nally 0-3, 1f; Sean Healy & Jonathan Commins 1-0 each; James Harper, Ruairi Hanlon, Cathal Fleming 0-1 each
Team: Cian Rogan, Jamie Winters, Finbarr Lynch, Nathan Buckley, James Harper, Ruairi Hanlon, Cathal Fleming, Ryan Walsh, Joe Mee, Craig Lennon, Daire Nally, Conor Faulkner, Micheal Begley, Sean Healy, Jonathan Commins. Subs: Paul McEvoy for Winters (21), Eoghan Ryan for Commins (HT), Adam Harper for Begley (40), Gabriel Bell for Faulkner (43), Conor Quigley for Lennon (53), James McGillick for Mee (58)
Referee: David Tiernan (Longford)