By Mike Fitzpatrick
Leitrim 1-15, Monaghan 0-8
Both sides knew what needed to be achieved from this senior football Div. 1 contest before a ball was kicked. Leitrim, having opened their season on something of an unsteady foot, have now strung a couple of results together that should see them make the playoffs. With Donegal, Kerry and Tyrone all set to clinch a position each, and Stamford looking for the fourth place, Leitrim had Westmeath to worry about for the fifth and final spot. Although Monaghan and Cavan still had outside chances of obtaining the last playoff position, Monaghan’s hopes have now faded due to this damaging defeat. The boys from Ulster are now staring relegation in the face and simply have to turn their season around if they are to continue to play their football in Div. 1 next year.
Monaghan, as now is customary, started the stronger side. With Mickey Slowey banging in points, they looked as if they could have clinched something from the tie. Same old story however. Monaghan, as has happened so many times in recent years, played some great football, truly showing their dogged determination and awe-inspiring team work, only to slip in the second half to a numbing defeat.
Leitrim, leading by a point, arguably against the run of play, stepped up a gear in the second period. Shortly after the break, with some fine scores from Garret Blake and Johnathon Daly, Leitrim were ahead by four points. The wind was knocked from Monaghan’s sails, and the side which had come so close to defeating the top guns on so many occasions in the recent past, were falling behind.
Leitrim, perhaps fearing a late Monaghan counter attack, continued to pile forward. Blake was in inspirational form, hitting a goal and eight points during the game.
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Monaghan attempted to claw their way back, and had efforts from Bonnie Duffy and Eamon Burns register on the scoreboard. The Monaghan revival was not to be however. Leitrim kept pushing for their place in the final five, and Monaghan now stand in dire fear of being relegated. Only their second year back in the top flight, it would be devastating for this talented bunch of players who fight tooth and nail for each other to suffer the drop. They simply must turn their season around however, and clinch points from their remaining games to stay up.
Leitrim: Sean Jones, Eamon Breen, Morgan O’Shea, Mike Murphy, John Donaghue, Stephen Ward (0-1), Tom Maher, John Meehan, Conal Martin, Jim Donaghue (0-2), Tommy Gee (0-1), Mike Brosnan (0-1), Johnathon Daly (0-2), Gareth Blake (1-8), Al Travers. Sub: Rory Hussy.
Monaghan: Joseph Sullivan, Kieran Harte, Mickey Treanor, Gerry Coleman, Brian McKenna, Bernard Treanor, Eddie Murphy, Hughie Sullivan, Denis Connolly, Noel McEntee (0-1), Eamonn Burns (0-1), Mickey Slowey (0-5), Paul McGlynn, David Ballantine, Bonnie Duffy (0-1). Subs: Sean Carbin, Davie Canning, Mickey McEntee.