After Leitrim fought a spirited battled to grab a one point lead for a four minute spell in the second half, the already crowned Connacht Minor League champions Galway came back to defeat the home side by five points at the end in Páirc Seán MacDiarmada on Saturday.
Galway slightly edged the first half proceeding and deservedly led by three points at the break but following the restart Leitrim outplayed Galway for the first 12 minutes of the action and it looked for a while like they might cause an upset.
Manager Enda Lyons reshuffled his side making six changes in his original selection when he replaced Stephen McPartland with Darren Kenny, Philip Dolan with Daire Farrell, Rory McTague with Barry Nash, Conor Dolan with Bertie Cunningham, Michael Clancy with Kenny Cox and Cathal McCauley with Luke Murphy.
After going behind, Galway manager John Donnellan brought on three subs, Eoin McCormack, Enda Tierney and Darren Moran and they turned the tide in the game with much of the remainder of the game being played in the Leitrim half.
Galway got their noses in front and went ahead again with a 46th minute Darren Moran free as Leitrim was held scoreless for the remainder of the half as Galway controlled the exchanges all over the field.
Cormac Rafferty opened the scoring in the game with a second minute Galway poin but Conor Gaffney levelled in the following minute when tapped over a free. Eamon Branigan edged Galway back in front but Kenny Cox hit back in the following minute for Leitrim.
Galway raced ahead to build up a three point lead by the 17th minute after Jason Lyons, Paul Mannion and Branigan all shot over in turn. Leitrim, who hadn’t scored for 13 minutes, replied with a 19th minute Conor Gaffney point from play.
Over the next seven minutes, Galway’s Dylan Thornton and Leitrim’s Gaffney traded points and before halftime, Paul Mannion tapped over a free that put Galway into a 0-7 to 0-4 lead at the interval.
In the first minute after the restart a resurgent Leitrim reduced the deficit when Conor Gaffney tapped over a placed ball. Galway had a let off two minutes later when Kenny Cox failed to convert a goal chance from close range. Michael Daly opened Galway’s second half account when he shot over in the 38th minute.
But the Leitrim fight back continued with a fine piece of individual play from Kenny Cox who got on the end of a long ball in and inside his marker Cathal Reilly to give Galway keeper James Healy no chance when finishing to the net.
Within the space of a minute, Leitrim went front for the first time and only time in the contest when Cathal Keegan shot over a fine long range point which unfortunately proved to be the home side’s last score of the day.
Galway, who made a number of telling substitutions around this time and just went behind Leitrim for four minutes, was back on par when Michael Daly levelled the game with a 43rd minute point from play.
Following that Galway regained a lead they never subsequently relinquished when sub Darren Moran put over a 46th minute free. Galway went on to add two more unanswered points from Paul Mannion with subs Enda Tierney and Darren Moran getting a point each.
James Healy; Cormac O’Connor, Cathal Reilly, Luke Burke; Conor Rhattigan, Jack Parsons, Dylan Corbett; Jason Lyons (0-1), Stephen Lawless; Dylan Thornton (0-1), Michael Daly (0-2), Cormac Rafferty (0-1), Paul Mannion (0-4), Eamon Branigan (0-2), Padraic Cunningham. Subs: Eoin McCormack & Enda Tierney (0-1) for Rafferty & Branigan (41 mins); Darren Moran (0-2) for O’Connor (43 mins); Peter Cooke for Daly (54 mins); Peter Healy for J. Healy (59 mins)
Darren Kenny; David Mulvey, Enda Fowley, Shane McGowan; Daire Farrell, Barry Nash, Aaron McLoughlin, Kevin McWeeney, Cathal Keegan (0-1); Bertie Cunningham, Conor Gaffney (0-4), Evan Ward; Shane Doonan, Kenny Cox (1-1), Luke Murphy. Subs: Conor McCauley & Kevin Shanley for Doonan & Nash (HT); Conor Dolan for Cox (52 mins); Thomas McPartlan for Keegan (58 mins); Daragh Gordon for Gaffney (61 mins).
Ref: John Gilmartin (Sligo).