Colm Moreton hooks the sliothar over the bar for a point Picture: Willie Donnellan
A dramatic James Glancy goal after more than three minutes of injury time kept Leitrim’s hopes alive in the Lory Meagher Cup Final in Croke Park before the Green & Gold surged to victory in a drama filled extra-time encounter with Lancashire.
The Exiles looked odds on to lift the title as they led by three points with the five minutes of added time quickly ticking away but in true never say die spirit, Leitrim refused to give up and Glancy’s goal, albeit with the aid of a massive deflection, saved their skins.
In extra-time, Leitrim made the most of their reprieve as they into a five point lead with time almost up but Lancashire struck a late 1-1 in added time at the end of extra-time to leave the Green & Gold on tenterhooks.
Thankfully, the final whistle sounded seconds after Lancashire’s goal and wild Leitrim celebrations broke out on the field as the Green & Gold celebrate a first ever national title won at GAA headquarters.
Leitrim had started the better in a fast paced opening with Gavin O’Hagan particularly effective early on. With Ronan Crowley uncharacteristically missing some early frees, it took an opportunistic goal from Colm Moreton when he robbed the keeper to score to give Leitrim the advantage.
Further points from Moreton, Clement Cunniffe and O’Hagan saw Leitrim open a four point lead before Crowley brought Lancashire back into the contest with a goal just before the break.
But great scores from Karl McDermott, Colm Moreton and Cunniffe suggested that Leitrim were well on the way to a comfortable victory as they led 1-10 to 1-7 at the break.
However, the second half belonged to Lancashire who bossed the battle around the middle of the field and with Darren & Ronan Crowley so effective for the Exiles, they turned a three point deficit into a four lead with ten minutes to go.
Leitrim, devoid of inspiration and leaden footed, looked dead and buried when Lancashire again led by four with less than four minutes of normal time left. Two Gavin O’Hagan frees raised hopes but Darren Crowley seemed to end those hopes with a 72nd minute free.
But Leitrim refused to give in and a patient move saw the sliothar moved across to centre-back James Glancy. His shot looked on target but fortune shone on Leitrim again when the ball deflected off a defender and wrong footed the keeper, ending up in the net.
The game then went to added time and with Lancashire struggling with injuries, it was Leitrim who took control of the tie with three points from two O’Hagan frees and one from sub Zak Moradi to lead by three at halftime of extra-time.
O’Hagan found Cunniffe with a wonderful point to stretch the lead but Lancashire wasted a goal chance as Tommy Maher skimmed his shot high over the bar.
The impressive O’Hagan would add two further points, the second a penalty after Clement Cunniffe was pulled back and that seemed to seal Leitrim’s victory. However, Lancashire showed real guts as they fought back with a Crowley free and a goal from Patrick Duggan to leave just a point between the sides at the final whistle.
Leitrim: Declan Molloy; Paul Earley, David McGovern, Niall McLoughlin; Enda Moreton (0-1), James Glancy (1-0), Fergal Earley; Liam Moreton (0-1), Karl McDermott (0-1); Adam Byrne (0-2), Colm Moreton (1-4), Ben Murray (0-1); Gavin O’Hagan (0-9, 6f, 0-1 pen), Clement Cunniffe (0-3), Cathal O’Donovan. Subs: Stephen Goldrick for Byrne, Declan Ryan for P Earley (61mins), Zak Moradi (0-1) for McDermott (62), Kevin McGrath for McLoughlin (70), McDermott for F Earley (86)
Lancashire: Ronan McAteer; Shane Maloney, Colm Larkin, Liam Knocker; David Power, Greg Jacob, Trevor Lee (0-2); Colm Doherty, Tommy Maher (0-2); JJ Dunphy (0-1), Daire Maskey, Darren Crowley (0-4); Edmond Kenny (0-2), Justin Cleere, Ronan Crowley (1-9, 4f). Subs: Conor Duggan (0-1) for Maskey (41mins), Oisin McMahon for Knocker (59), Patrick Duggan (1-1) for Maher (64), Eoghan Kelly for Power (70), Shane Dunne for D Crowley (70), Simon Wallace for Cleere (76), Maher for Dunphy (81), Cleere for Doherty (86).
Ref: Kevin Brady (Louth)
SEE THIS WEEK'S LEITRIM OBSERVER FOR IN-DEPTH REPORT, ANALYSIS & REACTION
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.