Clement Cunniffe battles with Lancashire's Nathan Unwin for the sliothar. Photo by Declan Gaffney
Leitrim hurlers suffered heartbreak when Lancashire scored three points in the last three minutes of normal time of Sunday's Allianz NHL Division 3B Final and then ran away with a convincing victory in extra-time.
Against all the odds, 14-man Leitrim looked as if they were going to lift a national title going into the closing ten minutes of Sunday's enthralling final in Ballyconnell as they led by four points with less than nine minutes remaining. Two Lancashire points cut the gap but a brilliant Ben Murray score from the corner seemed to spell victory for the Green & Gold.
But in a stunning finish, Edmund Kenny showed remarkable skill as the full-back switched up to full-forward and landed two vital scores, along with a Ronan Crowley free, to force a draw and extra-time.
In extra-time, a rejuvenated Lancashire, buoyed by their close shave with defeat, surged into a five point lead and they never looked back.
It was cruel, cruel misfortune for a Leitrim team that certainly played well enough to win and leaves them with the terrible thought of what might have been had James Glancy and Colm Moreton being available to face the Exiles or if Kevin McGrath had been able to avoid two yellow cards in the first half.
That dismissal seemed to spell the end for Leitrim but despite trailing by three points at the break, it was Leitrim who tore into the contest and a Clement Cunniffe goal 19 minutes into the second half seemed to propel Leitrim to a certain victory.
Unfortunately, the immense physical effort taken by the 14 men against Lancashire's 15 during the second half told it's tale as Lancashire displayed admirable grit to rescue the draw and take the victory in extra-time.
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