Aughnasheelin’s fast start to both halves and Leitrim Gaels’ inability to take their chances were the decisive factors as Aughnasheelin claimed the Fox Monumentals Intermediate title in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada on Sunday.
Aughnasheelin were three to the good inside the first three minutes of the game and reopened a five point lead inside the first ten minutes of the second half only for Leitrim Gaels to haul them back in.
Unfortunately for the Gaels, they missed some great chances and hit the woodwork on one occasion as they never could replicate the movement and momentum that has so characterised their performances so far this year.
Credit for that has to go to Aughnasheelin who attacked and dominated what many believed would have been Leitrim Gaels’ strongest point, Man of the Match Conor Cullen and captain Barry McWeeney dominating the sector throughout and stopping the Gaels in their tracks.
There was a slightly controversial ending to the contest when Leitrim Gaels had what seemed to be a clear sideline ball in injury time over-ruled, leading to some pushing and shoving on the sideline.
With just a point between the teams and the Gaels desperate for one last attack, referee Gareth Foley then moved the ball further in-field for an Aughnasheelin free, duly converted by Barry McWeeney to seal the victory.
Having said that, Aughnasheelin were deserving winners but there wasn’t that much in it. Aughnasheelin nullified Leitrim Gaels midfield and never gave their defensive system much of a chance to get set yet the Gaels were only a matter of inches from claiming a draw in the second half.
Aughnasheelin got off to a blistering start when a long ball found Brendan Mulvey after just 30 seconds and he fired over. Less than a minute later, Fintan Fitzpatrick stroked a free over the bar and three minutes in, the lead was at three when Conor Cullen fired over from distance.
Leitrim. Gaels should have wiped that lead out when a ball to Conor Guckian saw him feed an unmarked Aidan Flynn but he pulled his shot wide of the near post when a goal looked on the cards.
Flynn did get off the mark when another long ball to Guckian was knocked down to the wing-forward for a good score but Conor Cullen then hit a 50 well over the Leitrim Gaels bar after a Sean McWeeney shot had been blocked out.
Gavin Sammon, so impressive throughout, pointed after a Cullen mark and free set him free and as Leitrim Gaels saw Shaun Chandler shoot wide but from the kickout, Aidan Flynn fielded in isolation and soloed in to fist the ball over the bar.
The sides swapped wides before Liam Moreton had a good shout for a penalty, a heavy first challenge when he won a long ball but play was waved on and a fine Flynn run ended with Liam Moreton point on 18 minutes to cut the gap to two points.
Aughnasheelin weren’t slow in responding - Conor Cullen finished off a great move that involved Philip Dolan, Niall Mulvanerty and a brilliant diving tap pass from Gavin Sammon with a fine point.
Leitrim Gaels weren’t lying down and good work from Liam Moreton resulted in another Aidan Flynn point but with Barry McWeeney catching an Eunan Treacy free on the line and Colm Moreton missing chances, Aughnasheelin were in control.
That advantage should have been driven home when referee Gareth Foley awarded a penalty, correctly, after a Keith Sammon shot hit the post and Fergal Earley got to the rebound first
Barry McWeeney stepped up to take the kick but Brendan Flynn made a fantastic save, then followed up with another from the rebound before his defenders blocked a third shot, Fintan Fitzpatrick putting over a free for touching the ball on the group.
Leitrim Gaels then missed three placed balls before halftime to one Aughnasheelin miss as Aughnasheelin led 0-7 to 0-4, a lead they quickly extended when Gavin Sammon floated a lovely effort from the corner over the bar about half a minute into the second half.
Eunan Treacy pulled back a free after a Barry McWeeney nudge on Conor Guckian but it was all Aughnasheelin as Niall Mulvanerty got a great score after good work from Barry McWeeney and Gavin Sammon.
A missed Treacy free and a yellow for Paddy Flynn saw Fitzpatrick put over a free to extend the lead to five points after eight minutes of the second half.
A flurry of yellow cards saw Aughnasheelin’s Keith Sammon and Leitrim Gaels Brian McElgunn booked for an off-the-ball clash while Colm Moreton might have been fortunate to escape with just a yellow card for a heavy challenge on Fergal Earley.
Leitrim Gaels looked in real trouble but they showed their character with three unanswered points, two from Aidan Flynn after great runs while Eunan Treacy converted a free on 17 minutes.
Gavin Sammon hit a lovely point to reopen a three point gap but as Liam Moreton hit a wide, David Bruen saw a good shot hit the woodwork and Aaron McLoughlin had a shot deflected out for a fifty that was hit wide by James Flynn, the odds looked against Leitrim Gaels.
But an absolute monster free from Colm Moreton, about two yards from the 70 yard line got them going with less that five minutes to go. And then Enda Moreton did great work to cross the ball to his brother Liam who fed Eunan Treacy for a tap over.
That left just a point between the teams and Leitrim Gaels went looking for an equaliser but a costly turnover after a throw-ball saw Aughnasheelin break out.
There was further controversy deep into the two minutes of added time when what looked from the pressbox to be a certain Leitrim Gaels sideline ball seemed to be given Aughnasheelin’s way. That was moved forward by referee Gareth Foley and Barry McWeeney converted to seal a famous victory.
Scorers: Conor Cullen (50), Fintan Fitzpatrick (3f) & Gavin Sammon 0-3 each; Barry McWeeney (f), Niall Mulvanerty & Brendan Mulvey 0-1 each
Team: Martin McHugh, Paul Earley, Paddy McManus, Wayne Gilgunn, Philip Dolan, Sean McWeeney, Christy McNulty, Barry McWeeney, Conor Cullen, Niall Mulvanerty, Fintan Fitzpatrick, Keith Sammon, Fergal Earley, Brendan Mulvey, Gavin Sammon. Subs: Cormac Sammon for McNulty (37), Ben McGirl for F. Earley (46), Gavin McWeeney for Mulvey (62)
Scorers: Aidan Flynn 0-5; Eunan Treacy 0-3, 2f; Liam Moreton & Colm Moreton (f) 0-1 each
Team: Brendan Flynn, Paddy Flynn, James Flynn, Paul Guckian, Brian McElgunn, David Bruen, Mick McWeeney, Liam Moreton, Colm Moreton, Aidan Flynn, Eunan Treacy, Aaron McLoughlin, Shaun Chandler, Conor Guckian, Enda Moreton. Subs: Ryan Goldrick for P. Flynn (5), Paddy Flynn for P. Guckian (35), Brian Treacy for McWeeney (53), Michael McManus for E. Moreton (60)
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