Category: Archive

N.Y. GAA Donegal edge Leitrim in Div. 1 football showdown

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mike Fitzpatrick

Donegal 2-10, Leitrim 0-15

The one the crowd were waiting for. Forced to wait with baited breath, due to those sadists on the scheduling committee playing the big one at the finish of the day, those in attendance at Gaelic Park Sunday were treated to a fine game of football between two of the city’s best teams.

The sides who practically made the 1990s their own, Leitrim and Donegal, came face to face in a crucial Division One tie, which will no doubt have a major say on who gets to contest the playoffs at the end of the season.

Donegal, many people’s favorites for the title last year, before the upstarts from Kerry arrived with a bang to destroy their dream, clearly want back the silverware they haven’t seen for a few years. Hitting form this year, Donegal had obtained six points from a possible eight, and sat in a comfortable position near the top of the table.

Leitrim, on the other hand, have had a very disappointing season. With only the solitary point from two games, and with a number of tough opponents ahead of them, things didn’t look so rosy in the gardens of lovely Leitrim. They were thoroughly outplayed by a rampant Kerry selection a few weeks back, and coming into this tie, it was certain that they’d up their tempo to go for the win. That they certainly did, as they took advantage of a number of Donegal mistakes to come within a whisker of victory.

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Donegal’s Donal Breslin opened the scoring with a well-taken goal early on. Following some great passing between Barry Ward and Brian Roper, Breslin made no mistake in hammering in past the Leitrim keeper. Bill Dennehy hit a couple of points for Leitrim to bring them within one, and Kieran O’Hare hit another for Donegal to move two points clear. Dennehy hit his third of the afternoon, and another from Gareth Blake leveled proceedings for Leitrim. Liam Doyle hit his first of three points of the afternoon to move Leitrim in front for the first time, but the seesaw effect continued when O’Hare leveled for Donegal, and hit another to move the Ulster men in front. J.P. Boyle and Mike Moran grabbed a point each for Donegal, and Dennehy grabbed yet another for Leitrim to leave Donegal leading by two points going into the break.

After the interval, Donegal stepped up a little and began the scoring with Edmund Cleary opening his personal account, and Breslin adding another. Donegal’s lead increased thanks to a fine score from the on form Gary Dowd, who banged the ball over following some great work from Breslin and O’Hare.

Leitrim seemed troubled, but came right back into contention with Liam Doyle and intercounty star Mike Lyndon hitting scores. Blake, Doyle and Dennehy again scored points to come within a whisker of Donegal’s lead, until the Ulster side’s Roper banged in his side’s second goal of the game. The final 10 minutes were explosive, with both sides scoring points in an effort to clinch victory. Donegal grabbed another from J.P. Boyle, and was swiftly followed onto the scoreboard by Kieran O’Hare. Late points from Mike Brosnan and Blake threatened to steal the tie for Leitrim, but it was to be Donegal’s day. A one-point victory that will go far in deciding their fate in this year’s championship race. They’ve now moved up to joint top, although Kerry have played one less game than them. Leitrim, though certainly not out of the competition, must pick themselves up from this disappointment. They’ve had disappointing starts to seasons before, and gone on to win the title and although they are somewhat further down the list of favorites for the title, it’s far too early to rule any side out of contention just yet.

Donegal: Eunan Doherty, Paddy McConigley, Owen Cummins, Keith Murray, Mick McGready, Adrian McClafferty, Gerry Kelly, Mick Moran (0-1), Gary Dowd (0-1), Donal Breslin (1-1), Barry Ward, Brian Roper (1-0), Kieran O’Hare (0-4), J.P. Boyle (0-2), Edmund Cleary (0-1).

Leitrim: Enda Lohan, Malachy McHugh, Morgan O’Shea, Eamonn Breen, Jim Donaghue, Mike Brosnan (0-1), John Donaghue, Colm Martin, Stephen Ward, Liam Doyle (0-3), Tommy Gee, Gareth Blake (0-3), Mike Murphy, Mike Lyndon (0-2), Bill Dennehy (0-6).

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