Roscommon's Ruaidhri Fallon tries to escape from the reach of Leitrim's Paul Keaney last Saturday in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada. Photo by Willie Donnellan
Dreams can turn to dust in a second and they certainly did last Saturday when a rash moment effectively ended Leitrim U17s quest against Roscommon.
Leitrim, as they did in the first game in Mayo, started poorly and conceded an early goal but they fought back against a Roscommon team who had humbled Mayo in the second round.
Leitrim produced some fantastic football to trail by just a point at the halftime interval and could have been ahead but for some bad and missed goal chances. But right after the break, disaster struck when Roscommon sub Eoghan Derwin stormed through the centre of the Leitrim defence to power home a second goal.
Crucially, the goal was followed by a red card for the outstanding Donal Casey, a rash impulse seeing him prod a Roscommon player on the ground with his foot after the Leitrim Gaels man had won a free.
Instead of an attacking free for Leitrim, the linesman drew attention to the incident and referee Ronan Hynes issued a straight red card and with that, went Leitrim's hopes.
Nobody but nobody is blaming young Casey but it is a harsh, harsh lesson for a young Leitrim team as to just what a momentary lapse can do with Roscommon expertly exploiting the space left in his absence, running up a big score to all but end Leitrim's hopes in the Connacht A competition.
With hopes receding in the A grade, Leitrim can still do something in the new B competition and there are grounds for optimism but Leitrim will need a full 60 minute performance rather than the two 30s we have seen so far.
Leitrim have certainly put it up to teams for spells but if they can start well and build on that, you get the feeling that wins will come, perhaps starting with Sligo next Friday.
Roscommon got off to the perfect start when a long ball in found Adam McDermott who blasted the ball to the net after 50 seconds. Leitrim hit back when Paul Keaney intercepted and set in train a move that ended with Donal Casey firing over a good point on two minutes before the Rossies hit back with points from, James Fitzpatrick and McDermott.
Leitrim broke effectively for a second point, Donal Casey firing over and Leitrim were left wondering what might have been after Tom Prior created a good goal chance that Jamie Quinn blasted into the side netting.
Roscommon’s Liam Ormsby pointed before a foul on Caolan Clancy allowed Oisin Bohan to convert the free. Both teams followed up with bad wides before a quick free and return to Jamie Quinn saw the Gortletteragh man fire over.
Roscommon replied with an Aaron McDermott free but Leitrim hit two in added time, a free from Jamie Quinn and from the kickout, Leitrim won the ball, Tom Prior setting up David O’Connell for a fisted point to leave Leitrim trailing 1-4 to 0-6 at the break.
Roscommon, with three changes, started like a whirlwind in the second half as Shane Cunnane put over a free after a foul on sub Eoghan Derwin. From the kickout, Derwin blasted through the Leitrim cover and launched a rocket to the net to suddenly leave Leitrim five in arrears.
It got much worse when Donal Casey received a red card. The Leitrim Gaels man won a free and, from our vantage point, moved his foot against a Roscommon man on the ground. Referee Ronan Hynes consulted with his linesman before issuing a straight red card.
Adam McDermott scored two points either side of an Oisin Bohan free while Paul Keaney was lucky to escape a second yellow after a late hit. James Fitzpatrick and Adam McDermott added points before Fergus Lennon played a one-two with Fitzpatrick before palming the ball to the net on 13 minutes.
Matthew Earley did well to save a dangerous ball but Cunnane put over the resulting 50 to stretch the lead to 12 points. Lennon added a quick fire two points before the hard working David O’Connell fisted over a point after good work from Tom Prior on 50 minutes.
Roscommon continued to pile on the scores with Cunnane, Daire Cregg and Conor Walsh scoring points. Tom Prior did get a good point in added time but Roscommon cut through the Leitrim defence, Fitzpatrick palming the ball to the net for the final goal.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Main Man: Donal Casey was outstanding until his rash moment of madness while David O'Connell put in another strong shift. Tom Prior looks a handful in attack while Caolan Clancy, Colin Moran, Paul Keaney and Matthew Earley all had good moments.
Talking Point: This was a better Leitrim display against a Roscommon team who blitzed Mayo. The task now is to get a full 60 minutes out of a promising side.
Turning Point: Donal Casey's dismissal came just a couple of minutes after Mayo found the net for the second time. It turned a promising situation at halftime into a dire one just three minutes into the second half.
Ref Watch: Some felt Ronan Hynes was harsh with his dismissal of Donal Casey but acting on the advice of the linesman, he had no option but to flash red. The offence was the very lower end of the scale but could be clearly seen from the stands. Hynes could also have given Paul Keaney a second yellow but exercised leniency for a late hit.
Highlight: Leitrim battled back extremely well and were unlucky not to be in front at halftime with a superb second half display and a near miss for a goal.
Lowlight: For the second game in the competition, Leitrim were blown away in the second half after battling back from an early goal.
TEAMS & SCORERS
Scorers: David O'Connell, Jamie Quinn (f), Oisin Bohan (2f) & Donal Casey 0-2 each; Tom Prior 0-1
Team: Matthew Earley, Tom McKeon, Eoin McLoughlin, Jack Flynn, Patrick McKenna, Paul Keaney, Francis McGovern, Colin Moran, David O’Connell, Shane Moran, Caolan Clancy, Jamie Quinn, Donal Casey, Tom Prior, Oisin Bohan. Subs: Daniel Maguire for Mallon (41), Oisin Niblock for Clancy (46), Francie Davitt for McGovern (50), Conal McGovern for Bohan (58)
Scorers: Adam McDermott 1-4; Fearghus Lennon & James Fitzpatrick 1-2 each; Eoghan Derwin 1-0; Shane Cunnane 0-3, 1 50, 1f; Aaron McDermott (f), Liam Ormsby, Colin Walsh & Daire Cregg 0-1 each
Team: Daniel Connolly, Cathal Brogan, Darragh Murray, Niall Moran, Robbie Dolan, Ruaidhri Fallon, Jack Lohan, Enda Crawley, Shane Cunnane, Aaron McDermott, Liam Ormsby, Richard Walsh, Fearghus Lennon, Adam McDermott, James Fitzpatrick. Subs: Colin Walsh, Eoghan Derwin & Daniel Farrell for Moran, Aaron McDermott & Ormsby (HT), Daire Cregg for Walsh (39), Ciaran Quinn for Fallon (45), Jason Doory for Crawley (54)
Referee: Ronan Hynes (Sligo)