By Mike Fitzpatrick
Leitrim 2-7, Stamford 2-7
This face off between last year’s senior football championship finalists was always going to be a tough one to predict, with so little to choose from between the sides. It’s generally considered, despite the obvious evidence of the final game last year, that Leitrim and Stamford were two of the strongest sides in senior football coming into this season. However, despite this consideration, both sides lost their opening games. Leitrim were surprisingly well beaten by Cavan, and Stamford were defeated by Tyrone, though that result may yet be reversed pending a decision by the New York Board concerning the legality of some players used by Tyrone that day.
Leitrim got off to a great start with Alan McFadden battling his way through the Stamford backline to register three early points for his side, though these were canceled out shortly afterward when Mike Martin hit a goal for his side, much to the delight of the ever present Stamford supporters in the stadium. The Stamford support, I feel, certainly deserve a mention, as they are without doubt one of the most vocal within the organization, and certainly deserve credit for giving their side such an overwhelming amount of optimism and confidence.
An ugly-looking clash between Leitrim players Neville Dunne and Pauric Mullally, had both players taken off the field, though Dunne appeared shortly afterward seemingly fit to play on. The condition of Mullally, however was not known as we went to press. Let’s hope that he makes a speedy recovery in time for Leitrim’s next game. The contest continued at a fast pace, but neither side could force themselves into a position of superiority. The Connecticut side did take the lead briefly through points from Steede and Terry McCann, but Leitrim went back in front thanks to a point from Jim Donaghue, and a goal from Richie Maher, created seemingly out of nowhere by John Donaghue.
Anything Leitrim could do, their out-of-state rivals could match however. Points from Spike Martin and Richie Power swung the balance in favor of Stamford, until a goal from Leitrim’s first-half hero, McFadden, scored the goal that he and his teammates believed to be enough to win the tie. Richie Power, perhaps sensing defeat in the air, struck three points in the latter stages of the second half to give Stamford a well-deserved draw. The result was not a particularly good one for either side. However, as at this stage, both teams have collected only a point apiece, having completed two games. Forthcoming fixtures will be of huge importance to both sides if they are to maintain any sort of decent run toward this year’s championship.
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Leitrim: Joe Madden, Malachy McHugh, Kieran Walsh, Pauric Mullally, Brian Cahill, John McGuinness, Neville Dunne, John Meehan, Kieran Treanor (0-1), Jim Donoghue (0-1), John Donaghue, Richie Maher (1-1), Mike Murphy, Alan McFadden (1-3), Sean Jones. Subs: Peadar Reynolds (0-1), Joe Moloney, Alan Travers, Mike Brosnan.
Stamford: John Wallace, Martin McDermott, Jim Lyons, Tom McDonagh, Declan Curtin, Keith Hennessy, Mark Cunningford, Richie Power, Ted Steede (0-1), Eric McDonald, Richie Purcell, Justin O’Halloran, Mike Martin (2-2), Martin Power (0-3), Terry McCann (0-1).