Leitrim recorded their first league win of the year this afternoon when they inflicted a heavy defeat on Limerick in Pairc Sean MacDiarmada
The game was barely a minute old when Keith Beirne registered the first point of the afternoon. A good catch was followed by a sharp turn and shot which sailed over the bar.
Limerick replied with a point from their standout performer, Josh Ryan but Leitrim were looking the much more composed and organised of the teams and regained the advantage when Beirne again benefited from an early delivery, this time from Jack Heslin and the Mohill man applied a fine finish.
The game was still barely five minutes old when Beirne struck for his and Leitrim’s third point of the afternoon. Limerick were unable to match the clever movement of the Leitrim forwards as a series of quick passes created space for Beirne and with little or no pressure on him he extended Leitrim’s lead to two points.
Ryan O’Rourke was excellent as a provider throughout the afternoon and he also showed how dangerous he can be when running at pace with the ball. Having picked up the ball just inside the Limerick half O’Rourke ran at the retreating defence and as the gaps continued to grow, the Fenagh forward continued to burst forward until he applied a fine finish to put three between the sides.
Limerick hit back with another Josh Ryan point after a nice run from Danny Neville but Leitrim were very much in control as the clock ticked towards the quarter hour mark.
Leitrim’s fine start was rewarded when Darragh Rooney received possession and after waiting for the perfect moment, played the ball into the path of Keith Beirne who shot low past Limerick goalkeeper Donal O’Sullivan to increase the advantage to five points.
Moments after his introduction Ballinamore’s Dean McGovern was allowed to advance far too easily by the Limerick defence and he casually slotted the ball between the uprights and the lead was extended further when Beirne converted a free after Darragh Rooney was fouled.
With little inspiration being provided by the Limerick forwards, full-back Sean O’Dea surged forward and pointed from in excess of 45 metres but Leitrim remained dominant and the perseverance of Ryan O’Rourke was rewarded a minute later when he pointed after Jack Heslin’s pass.
Confidence was evidently growing among the Leitrim players and Oisin Madden applied the final pass after a lengthy period of possession to release Jack Heslin who pointed stylishly.
Limerick looked as though they were longing for the half-time whistle to sound but there was still six minutes remaining to the break when Limerick's Darragh Tracey allowed the ball to squirm from his grasp and Brendan Gallagher was on hand to punish the error with a well taken point.
Limerick hit back with a Jamie Lee point but which was soon cancelled out by another fine Brendan Gallagher point before Limerick completed the first half scoring with a pointed free from the boot of Josh Ryan.
Trailing 1-10 to 0-5 as the second half got underway Limerick began the second half with an urgency that was lacking in the opening half. They were quicker to the Leitrim man in possession and more determined in the tackle. That pressure led to the opening score of the second half as Leitrim lost possession when taking the ball into contact and Jamie Lee pointed to reduce the deficit.
Keith Beirne replied for Leitrim nine minutes into the second half but moments later Limerick were gifted possession resulting in Robbie Bourke finding the Leitrim goal as he shot past Diarmuid McKiernan.
A Danny Neville point moments later reduced the deficit to four and it looked as though Leitrim's lead could be reeled in.
However, Leitrim should great spirit, determination and plenty of skill as they regained control of the game.
A Jack Heslin point followed by two pointed frees from Keith Beirne helped calm the nerves of the Leitrim supporters.
Sean McSweeney converted a free for Limerick but with 13 minutes to go there was a feeling of inevitability regarding the final outcome as Leitrim bossed matters.
Jack Heslin, Keith Beirne (45) and Brendan Gallagher further increased the lead before Keith Beirne put the gloss on a fine win with his and Leitrim's second goal in injury time.
See Wednesday's Leitrim Observer for further analysis, reaction and pictures from today's game.