By Pierce O’Reilly
Rockland 1-9, Leitrim 2-13
Leitrim got nothing easy in this senior "A" game at Gaelic Park on Sunday. Visitors Rockland are a well-drilled team and if it wasn’t for a litany of injuries to several of their top players, the sides would have been a lot closer at the finish.
The Rockies were without top attackers Davie Fitzgerald and Mike Fitzpatrick — and they lacked punch without them. Leitrim, on the other hand, had the experience of Down all-star Mickey Linden at full forward, and while the Mayobridge m’stro was off form from play, he still finished with four points from frees. Surprisingly, it was the visitors who took an early lead with Martin Kennedy at center back and Limerick U-21 star Timmy Carroll at center forward showing well for the ball. When Gerry O’Riordan rattled the net after just one minute, the Rockies looked good for another upset.
Leitrim never panicked and with Linden using his guile and guts on the edge of the small square, they kicked off their scores. Linden kicked three points from frees before the break for the Westerners, with the other scores coming from center forward Ken O’Connor (2) and Laois senior Tommy Gee. It took Rockland until the 20th minute to register their second score, a point from Corkman Denis Cronin, who was causing early problems for the Leitrim defense. Kevin Golden added another one for the visitors, leaving the halftime score 1-4 to 0-6.
The second half was all Leitrim with Linden and Co. outfoxing their markers time and again. The introduction of Davie Fitzgerald did stem the rising tide for Rockland, but he lacked support from most other sectors. Points from Linden, Donoghue and two goals from the blonde Kerry bomber, Ken O’Connor, left the result in no doubt entering the final five minutes. Leitrim get their second victory, but they’ll have to improve if they want to be around later in the season. Rockland have been dogged by injury this year, and for the team playing it’s first year in the top flight, they can’t afford to lose any more.
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Leitrim: A. Power, J. Donaghue, J. Walsh, K. Murray, N. Keenan, P. Murphy, J. Donaghue 0-1, L. Keenan, J. Meehan, M. Murphy, K. O’ Connor 2-2, A. O’ Connor, M. Linden 0-4, T. Gee 0-5, J. Daly. Subs: K. Cox 0-1.
Rockland: J. Dwyer, R. Barrett, J. O’ Brien, C.O’ Tuama, J. McGuinness, M. Kennedy, T. Acton, P. Corcoran, S. Roche, K. Golden 0-2, T. Carroll, D. Cronin 0-1, T. O’ Riordain, M. Healy 0-2, G. O’ Riordain 1-1. Subs: T. Fennel, D. Fitzgerald 0-3, E. Woods.