Evan Sweeney gathers the ball surrounded by three Waterford defenders. Picture: Willie Donnellan
Leitrim completed their Allianz League Division 4 programme with the expected and rather comfortable demolition of a Waterford side in Avantcard Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada on Saturday afternoon.
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A late goal deep into injury time from Waterford's Michael Curry took some of the gloss off the victory as Leitrim definitely had their minds on the Division 4 Final against Derry next Saturday in Croke Park.
There will be some concern for the Leitrim fans as Waterford caused the home team's defence some very awkward moments and were it not for at least four outstanding saves from keeper Cathal McCrann, Leitrim would not have had it so easy here.
An off the ball foul on Emlyn Mulligan resulted in Ryan O’Rourke opening the scoring from a free and despite a bad wide from Domhnaill Flynn, a poor kickout was intercepted and Emlyn Mulligan swept the ball over the bar on three minutes,
A good pass from Conor Cullen, making his first start of the year, found Ray Mulvey for a good point while Waterford keeper David Whitty made a fantastic save to deny Mulligan a goal after good work from Evan Sweeney.
Mulligan converted the resulting 50 before Evan Sweeney did his Croke Park hopes no harm by making a fantastic catch in the area, getting up off the ground and working his way out under pressure to score.
Waterford’s first score came on 12 minutes, a Shane Aherne free after a great Conor Murray run through the defence that should have yielded a goal on 12 minutes. Ryan O’Rourke responded with a fine point, Shane Moran was booked for a clumsy high challenge and David Hallihan pointed after a strong run from Dylan Guiry.
Evan Sweeney and Conor Murray swapped points before Conor Cullen availed of poor marking to sweep over a score. Jason Gleeson and Domhnaill Flynn (free) swapped points before another great run through the middle almost resulted in a Waterford goal.
Waterford were made pay for the miss straight away as a long ball was fielded by Sweeney and cleverly worked back to Ryan O’Rourke who drilled the ball straight to the net.
Shane Moran, O’Rourke (free) and Sweeney all added points before Emlyn Mulligan tapped over a free to five Leitrim an 11 point halftime lead.
The second half was a much more sedate affair with Leitrim missing a few early chances while Waterford had a goal disallowed when Dylan Guiry was judged by the referee to have kicked the ball from the grasp of Cathal McCrann following a good save by the Leitrim keeper.
Two J.J. Hutchinson points, one from a free, narrowed the gap before Emlyn Mulligan scored a great point. Conor Cullen then blasted a 50 yard effort over the bar on 12 minutes but that was followed by an eight minute spell without a score.
Conor Murray scored a lovely point for Waterford but sub Cathal McCauley answered with a good point.
Waterford finally got the goal their efforts deserved and again it was through the middle Waterford made ground, the impressive Guiry bursting through a challenge. Again McCrann made the save but this time, Guiry was able to force the ball home from close range.
O’Rourke (free) and Hutchinson swapped points before another sub Niall Brady got on the scoresheet with an excellent point from a tight angle after his first shot hit the woodwork. Leitrim would add further points from Emlyn Mulligan and Ray Mulvey but the final word fell to Waterford when Michael Curry spun nicely in the goalmouth to get through the cover and blasted to the net from close range for a second Waterford goal.
TEAMS & SCORERS
Scorers: Ryan O’Rourke 1-4, 3f; Emlyn Mulligan 0-5, 1 50; Evan Sweeney 0-3; Ray Mulvey & Conor Cullen 0-2 each; Shane Moran, Domhnaill Flynn (f), Cathal McCauley & Niall Brady 0-1 each
Team: Cathal McCrann, Micheal McWeeney, Paddy Maguire, Conor Reynolds, Oisin Madden, Mark Plunkett, Ray Mulvey, Conor Cullen, Shane Moran, Sean McWeeney, Domhnaill Flynn, Pierce Dolan, Evan Sweeney, Emlyn Mulligan, Ryan O’Rourke. Subs: Jack Heslin for Flynn (45), Gary Reynolds for Madden (47), Cathal McCauley & Niall Brady for Dolan & Sweeney (51), Dean McGovern for Moran (68)
Scorers: J.J. Hutchinson 0-3; Dylan Guiry & Michael Curry 1-0 each; Conor Murray David Hallihan 0-2 each; Jason Gleeson & Shane Aherne (f) 0-1 each
Team: David Whitty, Sean O’Donovan, Billy O’Keeffe, James McGrath, Brian Looby, Shane Ryan, Jason Gleeson, Shane Aherne, Tommy Prendergast, Dylan Guiry, Conor Murray, Sean Whelan Barrett, Jack Mullaney, David Hallihan, Michael Curry. Subs: J.J. Hutchinson for O’Keeffe (HT), Joe Allen for Prendergast (55), Brian Lynch and O’Keeffe for Whelan Barrett & Mullaney (60), Jay Hurton for Looby (70)
Referee: Niall McKenna (Monaghan)