Leitrim Gaels’ bid for a first ever GWP Junior A Championship title took a step closer to becoming a reality on Saturday last in Shane McGettigan Park Drumshanbo when they proved too strong for Dromahair in a game that was expected to be a closely fought encounter but never lived up to it’s billing.
Oonce the victors edged their noses in front, the Gaels never looked back and the longer the game progressed the stronger they looked. Conor Guckian and Aidan Flynn were excellent around the middle for Leitrim Gaels while the elusive Ricky Wynne caused all manner of problems for the Dromahair full-back line.
Elsewhere Eunan Tracey proved to be deadly accurate from placed balls while Michael McManus was another the Dromahair defence failed to come to terms with.
Leitrim Gaels 0-15 Dromahair 0-5
From a Dromahair point of view, it was a frustrating evening as hopes were high that the Junior teamcould match the achievements of the intermediate team and reach a championship final. Ultimately those hopes failed to materialise as once they failed to make the benefit of the elements being at the their back in the opening half count, Leitrim Gaels looked much stronger after the break and Dromahair spent the second half of the game focusing on containment rather than attacking.
The failure to win enough ball around midfield was central to Dromahair’s downfall but equally they will point to the fact that only two points were registered from play over the course of the 60 minutes as a reason for their challenge failing to live up to expectations.
For Leitrim Gaels the only disappointing part of the evening was the injury sustained by David Regan when he fell awkwardly while chasing a ball that was going out of play.
The opening stages proved to be very dogged and while Dromahair maybe had more possession there was nothing to separate the sides after 18 minutes of play with two Alan Harvey frees cancelled out by frees from Eunan Tracey.
Leitrim Gaels took the lead for the first time in the 19th minute when Ricky Wynne got the better of Enda Fowley and it was a lead they were never to relinquish.
Dromahair had a half chance of a goal when Martin Clancy floated a dangerous ball towards the Leitrim Gaels goal. Using his physical strength full-forward Niall Farrelly met the delivery with an outstretched fist but the ball went wide.
Two points in quick succession from Aidan Flynn and Ricky Wynne put real daylight between the sides for the first time and when Eunan Tracey converted a free two minutes before the interval Leitrim Gaels looked to have taken control of the contest. The final score of the half saw Dromahair’s Brian Feeney register a fine point, Dromahair’s first from play.
Trailing 0-6 to 0-3, Dromahair had shown enough to suggest they might cause problems for Leitrim Gaels but with Aidan Flynn & Conor Guckian becoming even more dominant in the second half Leitrim Gaels became even stronger.
Aidan Flynn’s early point extended the gap between the sides and only for an outstanding save from Stephen O’Hara to deny Luke Donnellan the situation facing Dromahair could have been considerably worse.
From the resulting 45 Eunan Tracey effortlessly converted and a further Ricky Wynne point, eight minutes into the second half, meant there was six points between the sides.
Dromahair registered their first point of the half 12 minutes after the restart courtesy of an Alan Harvey free but that was immediately cancelled out by another Wynne point after Michael McManus’ shot crashed back off the upright.
Wynne continued to cause all manner of problems for the Dromahair defence and a minute later he further extended his side’s lead.
With 13 minutes of the half remaining Michael Clancy scored Dromahair’s first point from play of the half after good approach play involving Alan Harvey and Bertie Cunningham.
Any hopes of a Dromahair comeback failed to materialise as Leitrim Gaels dominated the closing stages. An excellent Wynne point after he beat Fergal McMorrow and Gerard Kelly with a quick drop of the shoulder and an even quicker sidestep was followed by further points from Flynn, Tracey and McManus as Leitrim Gaels put the game beyond doubt to secure a thoroughly deserved win.
Dromahair had a chance of a late consolation goal after an excellent Michael Clancy run but having done the hard work his effort flew harmlessly wide.
Having suffered the heartbreak of final defeat before, Leitrim Gaels will be taking nothing for granted ahead of their showdown with either Gortletteragh or Allen Gaels in the final but they will certainly fancy their chances of making the step up to intermediate football next year.
Mark Chandler, John Casey, Paul Guckian, Aaron McLoughlin, James Keane, Andy Guckian, John Farrell, Conor Guckian, Liam Moreton, Eunan Tracey (0-6), Michael McManus (0-1), Aidan Flynn (0-3), David Regan, Ricky Wynne (0-5), Colm Moreton. Subs: Luke Donnellan for Regan (8 mins), Anthony Mulvey for McLoughlin (49 mins), Ray O’Rourke for Colm Moreton (60 mins).
St. Patrick’s Dromahair
Stephen O’Hara, Fergal McMorrow, Enda Fowley, Kenny Casey, Rory Kelly, Conor Farrell, Brian Feeney (0-1), Gerard Kelly, Martin Clancy, Alan Harvey (0-3), John Gibsey, Michael Clancy (0-1), David Cassidy, Niall Farrelly, Bertie Cunningham. Subs: Ronan Fowley for Gibsey (49 mins).
Referee: Kieran Moran