By Mike Fitzpatrick
Monaghan 2-5, Leitrim 1-8
The boisterous Monaghan crowd went home happy despite their side tying this game when there were occasions when they could have clinched victory. The senior football game Sunday at Gaelic park never really swung too far in the favor of either side, with the largest lead Monaghan or Leitrim possessing staying at about two points.
Ciaran Treanor opened the scoring for Leitrim with a point early on, only to have tenacious Monaghan midfielder Ray Kelly steal one back for his side. Monaghan could have clinched the lead after a few minutes if it were not for the fine goalkeeping antics of Leitrim’s Joe Madden. Eddie Murphy sprinted ahead of the Leitrim backline to shoot at goal, only to be denied by the Leitrim keeper. Paul Travers hit a goal for Leitrim as the result of a counterattack started by halfback Mike Brosnan at the other end of the pitch and full forward Sean Jones hit a golden streak at either side of the interval, scoring four points for Leitrim to move ahead of Monaghan.
Monaghan’s Eddie Murphy then made up for his earlier miss, receiving a clever inside ball from Paul McGlynn and speeding toward goal to shoot past Madden and in the process firing Monaghan into a slender lead. Monaghan’s on-form Kelly hit a point after some more good play involving Brendan Scott and Donaghue replied for Leitrim with a well-taken score from a difficult angle. Eddie Murphy hit his second of the afternoon with a skillfully taken pot-shot past the helpless Joe Madden.
Further points from Sean Jones moved Leitrim into pole position late in the game and he should really have put the tie out of Monaghan’s reach with a free kick outside 20 yards in the final two minutes. But buoyed on by the Monaghan crowd, the ball sailed out to the right and wide. Leitrim came close twice in the dying minutes, with Ciaran Treanor and John Brennan both denied by Monaghan’s reliable goalkeeper, Ger McGrinder. Monaghan equalized in the closing seconds.
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The fanatical Monaghan crowd, who did themselves proud in their highly vocal support of their side, were more relieved than elated at the final whistle. Leitrim proved equal on the day to this rampant Monaghan machine, and though neither side lost, the look on the face of Monaghan’s Paul McGlynn at full time spoke volumes. Monaghan will be disappointed not to win, but if Leitrim can keep up this dogged resistance and persistent attacking, they could go a long way this year.
Monaghan: Ger McGrinder, Aidan Burke, Brendan Duffy, Gary Birdy, Liam O’Neill, Bernard Treanor, Brian McKenna, Ray Kelly (0-4), Hughie Sullivan, Emmet McCormack, P.J. Rogers, Brendan Scott, John Browne, Eddie Murphy (2-1), Paul McGlynn. Subs: Mickey Treanor, Brendan McCormack, Noel McEntee.
Leitrim: Joe Madden, Malachy McHugh, Joe McGuinness, Mike Joe Hennessy, Neville Dunne, Mike Brosnan, Jim Donaghue, Tom McHugh, John Meehan, John Donaghue (0-1), John Brennan, Paul Hughes, Paul Travers (1-0), Ciaran Treanor (0-1), Sean Jones (0-6).