Leitrim Gaels Donal Casey is challenged by Darren Sweeney Picture: James Molloy
After an intense and exciting encounter, Glencar/ Manorhamilton’s late surge saw off the challenge of Leitrim Gaels on Saturday in Boggaun in this final Connacht Gold SFC Group 2 game, with the result always up for grabs right up to the end.
In truth, this was a game that could have gone either way and so close were the proceedings throughout that the sides drew level on no less than five occasions, and the fifth time this happened was as late as 59th minute near the end of what turned out to be a thrilling knife edge showdown.
Two early goal chances fell to Glencar/Manorhamilton in the opening three minutes with both falling to Niall Brady, who blazed the first one wide off the butt of the upright; the second seeing Brady force an alert Leitrim Gaels keeper Brendan Flynn to pull off a super save.
Over the next ten minutes, Glencar/Manor edged into a two point lead after Niall Brady and James Rooney shot over. Darren Sweeney received an 11th minute yellow card but Leitrim Gaels had got on level terms after Stephen Goldrick and Aidan Flynn whipped over points.
The Gaels took the lead for the first time in the game just after the water break thanks to Stephen Goldrick free.
Over the next five minutes, Manor got back on level terms and then edged ahead thanks to Niall Brady who fired over from play and from an advanced mark. Just before the interval whistle Stephen Goldrick levelled the game for a third time from a free to give a halftime score line of 0-4 each.
The Leitrim Gaels men raced into a two point advantage in the opening three minutes of the second half when Donal Moreton and David Regan fired over a point each but Glencar/Manor hit back with a 34th minute goal after a fine individual effort by Declan Byrne who fired soccer style to the net.
Almost immediately Darren Sweeney fired over a well-taken long range point but a Goldrick free steadied Leitrim Gaels, Conor Dolan responding with a free.
Just before the second water break, Leitrim Gaels Aaron McLoughlin was shown yellow, Conor Dolan whipping over a free which put Glencar/Manor 1-7 to 0-7 ahead with the game’s final quarter still to play.
Leitrim Gaels split the Glencar/Manor defence wide open two minutes later and David Regan put Ryan Goldrick through to duly palm the ball home to an empty net and level the scores at 1-7 apiece.
It was still even pegging by the 58th minute after Conor Dolan pointed a free awarded before David Regan shot over for Leitrim Gaels following a taken quickly ’45.’
But Manor regained the lead in devastating fashion when Aaron Hickey palmed to the Gaels net after his initial goal bound shot was stopped.
As the game ticked into injury time Leitrim Gaels hit back with an Aidan Flynn point. In the closing action Glencar/Manor managed to deny a close-range Leitrim Gaels goal chance while Niall Brady and Conor Dolan (free) added points.
Scorers: Niall Brady (1f) & Conor Dolan (4f) 0-4 each; Declan Byrne & Aaron Hickey 1-0 each; James Rooney & Darren Sweeney 0-1 each
Team: Colin Gilligan; Thomas McDonald, Gerry Hickey, Killian McGriskin; Brian McDonald, Paddy Maguire, Cian McManus; Darren Sweeney, Peter Poniard; Ruairi Sheridan, Conor Dolan, James Rooney; Declan Byrne, Aaron Hickey, Niall Brady. Subs: Daniel Maguire for McManus (55); Evan Sweeney for Byrne (59); Gavin O’Hagan for Sheridan (60); Donnacha Devaney for Hickey (61)
Scorers: Stephen Goldrick (2f,) David Regan (f) & Aidan Flynn 0-3 each; Ryan Goldrick 1-0; Donal Moreton 0-1
Team: Brendan Flynn; Stephen McDermott, Paddy Flynn, Aaron Aldridge; Aaron McLoughlin, Donal Casey, Shaun Chandler; Liam Moreton, Aidan Flynn; Ryan Goldrick, Michael McManus, Donal Moreton; David Regan, Stephen Goldrick, Jack Flynn. Subs: Brian McElgunn for McManus & Damien Flynn for D. Moreton (53); Paul Regan for Aldridge (61)
Referee: Cyril McKeon