Lancashire's defence holds out Zak Moradi. Photo by Willie Donnellan
Having gone two points up with ten minutes to go and a man to the good, Leitrim hurlers were left heartbroken when a resilient Lancashire outscored them 0-4 to 0-1 over the final stages to claim victory in the second round of Allianz NHL Division 3B last Sunday.
These two teams already look like the class of the Division and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they were to meet again in the Divisional Final and if the game is anything like this one, it will be a treat.
Lancashire dominated the first half and their halftime lead of 0-8 to 0-4 was a scarce reflection of their dominance, Crowley the game’s most influential player with seven points, one from play, one from a 70 and the rest from frees.
Tommy Duane got Lancashire’s only other score from play in the first half as Clement Cunniffe kept last year’s Lory Meagher Cup finalists in touch with four frees.
Liam Moreton and Niall McLoughlin reach for the sliothar against Lancashire's J.J. Dunphy. Photo by Willie Donnellan
Leitrim came more in the game in the second half, Cunniffe and points from Zak Moradi (2), Ben Murray and Cathal O’Donovan tying the scores by the 15 minute. Crowley put Lancashire back in front but a second yellow for Cleere seemed to be the death knell for the visitors hopes.
Leitrim surged in front with three unanswered points from Cunniffe frees to put them two clear with ten minutes to go.
But Lancashire refused to lie down and two Crowley frees, one from his own half, levelled the scores. Leitrim edged back in front with a Murray point while Cunniffe saw a free hit the woodwork.
Crowley tied the scores with yet another free and Lancashire grabbed an unlikely but hard fought win when Nathan Unwin fired over from distance.
There was still drama as Zak Moradi was blocked as he was going through on goal and sub Conor Beirne saw his goal attempt saved in a dramatic finish.
Scorers: Ronan Crowley 0-13, 2 70s, 8f; Tommy Duane & Nathan Unwin 0-1 each
Team: Pat Coates, Liam Knocker, Justin Cleere, Cathal McKillop, David Power, Simon Wallace, Nathan Unwin, James Fitzmaurice, Stephen Duncan, Daire Maskey, J.J. Dunphy, Tommy Duane, Damien O’Grady, Martin Hawley, Ronan Crowley. Subs: Fergal McKillop for O’Grady (50), Kevin McGrath for Ryan (62)
Scorers: Clement Cunniffe 0-9, 9f; Zak Moradi & Ben Murray 0-2 each, Cathal O’Donovan 0-1
Team: Declan Molloy; Declan Ryan, Cathal McCrann, Paul Earley; Enda Moreton, Clement Cunniffe, Niall McLoughlin, James Glancy, Liam Moreton; Ben Murray, Karol McDermott; David McGovern, Cathal O’Donovan, Gavin O’Hagan, Zak Moradi. Subs: Conor Beirne for O’Hagan (45), Kevin McGrath for Ryan (60), Kevin Clerkin for O’Hagan (69)
Referee: Sean Stack (Dublin)
All eyes on the ball! Referee Sean Stack and the players keep a close eye on the action. Photo by Willie Donnellan