Leitrim U21 footballers failed to get 2015 off to a wining start as a late Sean Moriarty point earned Offaly victory by the minimum margin in this Hastings Cup game at Gracefield on Saturday.
This was a game where Shane Ward’s side showed great enthusiasm and had eight different scorers, but Moriarty top-scored with 1-5 for the hosts.
Little separated the sides in the opening quarter, with the teams tied for the third time after 15 minutes, after Joe Maher equalised for Offaly to ensure a 0-3 apiece score-line.
Allen Gaels clubman Nicholas Moore, Conor Gaffney from Drumreilly and Ballinamore’s Luke Murphy all contributed Leitrim’s early scores.
The visitors stole a march in the second quarter as they exerted full control.
Ward’s men hit their best spell in this game, registering five unanswered points to take an 0-8 to 0-3 lead after 27 minutes, with Aughawillan brothers Gary and Mark Plunkett adding a point each, while Gaffney, Moore and Dromahair’s Michael Clancy also on target.
Offaly finished the half strongly with two Moriarty points, but Leitrim were full value for their 0-8 to 0-5 interval lead.
Declan Byrne and Gary Plunkett traded scores inside six minutes of the restart, before Moriarty’s 39th minute goal really kicked Offaly to life.
His three-pointer levelled the tie at 1-6 to 0-9, before Maher pushed the hosts ahead with his third point of the game.
Feilm McHugh delivered a 41st minute equaliser, and Offaly worked hard and moved two points clear with nine minutes remaining, Leitrim never gave up.
Substitute Gary Fowley and Nicholas Moore delivered points from play to tie the game with three minutes of normal time remaining.
However Moriarty showed great composure to bring his tally to 1-5 late on, and snatch an Offaly winner.
It’s a similar journey for Leitrim next Saturday, as they travel to the other side of the Barrow to face Laois at McCann Park, Portarlington at 2pm.
Leitrim’s back fixture against Clare has at the time of going to press still to be refixed but unless Leitrim beat Laois in the next game, their interest in the Hastings Cup will come to an end.
Offaly: Dylan Buckley; Ken Hogan, James Lawlor, Jim Hendry; James Nally, Garrett Corbett, Alan Heffernan; Conor McNamee, Declan Byrne (0-1); Niall Dempsey, Darragh Keenaghan, Ciaran Moloney; Ruairi McNamee, Joe Maher (0-3), Sean Moriarty (1-5, 2f) Subs: Conor Clancy for Buckley; Aaron Whelan for Lawlor; Eoin Lowry (0-1) for Keenaghan; Michael Keogh for Hogan; Ken Byrne for Nally; John Kavanagh for C McNamee.
Leitrim: Diarmuid McKiernan; Tommy Rogan, Gary Butler, Keelan McHugh; Michael Clancy (0-1), Niall McLoughlin, Jack de Lacy; Declan Daly, Felim McHugh (0-1); Mark Plunkett (0-1), Nicholas Moore (0-3), James Rooney; Luke Murphy (0-1), Gary Plunkett (0-2), Conor Gaffney (0-2). Subs: Aaron McLoughlin for Delaney (40); Niall Brady for Murphy (43); Daire Farrell for M Plunkett (43); Dean McGovern for Daly (49); Gary Fowley (0-1) for Gaffney (53).
Referee: Michael Gordon (Westmeath)