Leitrim Gaels' Eunan Treacy gets his shot away. Photo by Willie Donnellan
In a game of small margins, Leitrim Gaels ability to better manage the key moments proved the difference against a brave Ballinaglera.
In a very entertaining contest that swung one way and then the other, the greater know-how and calmness under pressure was the key ingredient that saw Leitrim Gaels pick up their first win of the 2018 campaign.
Ballinaglera put up an immense effort and can consider themselves unlucky not to have earned a point but when push came to shove, they couldn't match the Gaels' ability to deliver under pressure.
It was also a small measure of revenge for the Gaels who lost last year's Division 2 Final but all you can say is that the team that beats either of these two sides in this year's Intermediate Championship will have done a good day's work.
Colm Moreton set the tone for the game with a massive 50 yard point just 30 seconds into the game but it was quickly matched by a brilliant Barry Gilmartin score from the corner inside a minute.
Seamus McMorrow put over a free but David Bruen, so impressive with his range of passing and ability to manage the game, dummied a defender and swept over a fine reply on three minutes.
Ballinaglera then hit four unanswered points with Wayne Reynolds skinning his man to score, repeating the dose on seven minutes with a brilliant point from the corner. In between Reynolds' two scores was a Seamus McMorrow free.
Leitrim Gaels missed a few chances in this period and Glera went four clear when Enda Maguire swept a fifty over the bar. But just as quickly, Leitrim Gaels hit form and three Eunan Treacy frees in as many minutes, two superb efforts from the left corner, had his team back in contention.
The game twisted even more dramatically on 17 minutes. A Ballinaglera attack broke down and Bruen's long raking ball found Conor Guckian on the move. The big man did well to field a low ball and immediately hit a crossfield pass to a charging Enda Moreton who advanced and lashed a blistering 20 yard shot to the roof of the net.
It was the score that changed the game and despite McMorrow hitting back with a free three minutes later and Barry Maguire belting over a great point, the Gaels were now controlling the pace of this entertaining contest.
Treacy and McMorrow swapped frees before the break as the score read 0-9 to 1-6, a stalemate that didn't last long as Leitrim Gaels sub Eunan Treacy converted a free just 40 seconds in after a foul on sub Stephen Goldrick.
But it was at the other end where the game was won and lost as Ballinaglera played a long ball into Wayne Reynolds who beat his man and seemed certain to find the net only for Brendan Flynn to make a wonderful save.
Goldrick would add a good point from play but Ballinaglera would not lie down and two Seamus McMorrow frees had the sides level once more by the seventh minute.
Both teams missed chances before an interception from Enda Moreton set up Treacy for a good point from play. The corner-forward would add another a minute later but Ballinaglera responded quickly with another McMorrow free.
More good work from Bruen, increasingly influential as the game became more frantic, resulted in a fine point from County Senior panelist Aidan Flynn, fisting the ball over the bar with 17 minutes gone in the half.
Seamus McMorrow emulated Treacy's brilliant placed balls from the left corner with a fantastic effort on 23 minutes but each time Ballinaglera closed the gap, Leitrim Gaels were quicker to respond, Treacy putting over a good free.
Back came Ballinaglera and Seamus McMorrow scored a brilliant point from play after they forced a turnover to leave one point between the teams with just over a minute of normal time remaining.
Both sides had chances but Leitrim Gaels made some great stops and when Seamus McMorrow was black carded for taking down a Gaels player breaking through, Eunan Treacy fired over a free that sealed the victory.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Main Man: David Bruen, Liam & Colm Moreton, Eunan Treacy and Brendan Flynn gave Leitrim Gaels a real strong spine while Stephen Goldrick impressed as a sub. For Ballinaglera, Seamus McMorrow led the way while Wayne Reynolds caused big problems. Barry & Enda Maguire, Brendan McGourty and Barry Gilmartin caught the eye.
Talking Point: Is there an Intermediate team with as much county talent as Leitrim Gaels? Colm Moreton, Aidan Flynn and Brendan Flynn have all lined out with the seniors, David Bruen, Stephen Goldrick, Narada Patrasco and Brian McElgunn with the Minors. They'll be tough stopped in 2018.
Turning Point: Enda Moreton's bullet-like goal in the first half vies with Brendan Flynn's superb save from Wayne Reynolds as the moment that decided this very close match.
Ref Watch: Solid outing for Brendan Sammon as he kept good control on the game.
Highlight: Some fabulous long range scores from Colm Moreton, Seamus McMorrow and great frees from Eunan Treacy stood out in an exciting clash.
Lowlight: A needless outbreak of handbags at the end took from a well contested and generally sporting encounter.
TEAMS & SCORERS
Scorers: Eunan Treacy 0-9, 7f; Enda Moreton 1-0; Colm Moreton, David Bruen, Aidan Flynn & Stephen Goldrick 0-1 each
Team: Brendan Flynn, Andrew Guckian, James Flynn, Paddy Flynn, Shaun Chandler, Liam Moreton, Donal Moreton, Colm Moreton, Conor Guckian, Narada Patrasco, Enda Moreton, David Bruen, Brian Treacy, Aidan Flynn, Eunan Treacy. Subs: Brian McElgunn for Patrasco (21), Stephen Goldrick for D. Moreton (HT), Ryan Goldrick for B. Treacy (35), John Farrell for E. Moreton (47)
Scorers: Seamus McMorrow 0-9, 7f; Wayne Reynolds 0-2; Barry Maguire, Barry Gilmartin & Enda McGuire (50) 0-1 each
Team: Conor O’Brien, Ryan Crawford, Brendan McGourty, Luke Bradley, Padraig Cornyn, Padraig Clarke, Thomas Cornyn, Enda Maguire, Seamus McGovern, Padraig McGrail, Seamus McMorrow, Barry Gilmartin, Ciaran Cornyn, Barry Maguire, Wayne Reynolds. Subs: Gerard Clarke for McGrail (40), Anton McGourty for R. Crawford (45), Rory McPartland for McMorrow (63 BC)
Referee: Brendan Sammon