By Mike Fitzpatrick
Leitrim 2-8, Stamford 0-12 Not since the exuberant glory days of Niall Quinn and Tony Cascarino have two tall white objects caused so much frustration at an Irish sporting event, but consternation and exasperation was what the Leitrim goalposts were all about for Stamford on Sunday at Gaelic Park.
Stamford attacked the Leitrim goal like starving pit bulls chasing a blood-soaked butcher, but the goalposts proved to be a worse enemy to the Connecticut side than this rampant Leitrim team, who prevailed to take their second straight senior football crown before a capacity crowd.
In all, the Leitrim crossbar and goalposts were struck six times by the Stamford attack. One just hopes that their mommas had told them there’d be days like this.
Stamford were arguably the stronger side in the first half, doing a lot more attacking than Leitrim. I say, arguably because one could ask how they were a better side when their admittedly excellent playmaking led to such poor finishing in front of goal.
Kieran Treanor opened the scoring for Leitrim with a clever effort punched over the despairing arms of Stamford’s goalkeeper, Dave Roughan. Roughan was again involved in the action minutes later when he produced a fine save from the oncoming threat of the unusually subdued Kieran McDonald of Leitrim. Stamford attacked with a ferocity unseen at Gaelic Park in weeks with Leitrim goalkeeper Joe Madden stealing the ball from Stamford’s nippy forward, Kieran Gallagher, who was bearing down on goal.
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Aidan Creamer sought to bring his side back into the game after Leitrim’s Kevin O’Brien had grabbed a point, but hitting the post twice and wide once does not for equalizing play make. Creamer, along with Ronan Mooney, did score a point each for Stamford, but Leitrim’s on-form O’Brien savaged another for his side following an excellent move that began way back in the Leitrim half, involving Neville Dunne and the pre-injury Mike Brosnan. Creamer hit two more points for his side to bring Stamford back into the fray, but a point each from John Donoghue and the powerhouse Leitrim man John Meehan accelerated Leitrim’s ascent toward glory.
McDonald hit another over the bar for Leitrim following some excellent play from Cookie Meehan. Declan Curtin of Stamford was denied a goal by the reliable hands of Leitrim keeper Joe Madden, and Madden prevented Spike Martin from grabbing a goal blocking a powerful shot which popped over for a point.
Stamford’s trainer, Donncha Dwyer, did his best to rally the fanatical Stamford support, and this led to a resurgence of sorts with Terry McCann hitting a point for his side. O’Brien and McKibben each hit one for Leitrim, O’Brien following up his earlier goal with a good strike over the bar. Leitrim’s Neville Dunne played a storming game, blocking a number of attacks for his side, but some careless Stamford finishing and passing led to another O’Brien point. The unofficial unluckiest player of the day award must be shared by Kieran Gallagher and Aidan Creamer, who despite excellent performances leading up to this game, on the day it could be said that Stamford attacked far more often, but Leitrim were on target a lot more, and though Richie Purcell almost marked Leitrim’s McDonald out of the game, Leitrim had so many more weapons in the attack-minded Sean Jones, O’Brien and Treanor, and the defensive kingpins, Neville Dunne and John O’Brien. It’s Leitrim’s trophy yet again.
Leitrim: Joe Madden, Malachy McHugh, John O’Brien, John McGuinness, Mike Joe Hennessy, Mike Brosnan, Neville Dunne, John Meehan, Jim Donaghue, John Donaghue (0-1), Kieran McDonald (0-1) Martin McKibben (0-1), Sean Jones, Kevin O’Brien (1-5), Kieran Treanor (1-0). Sub: Tom McHugh. Stamford: Dave Roughan, Brendan Brady, John Cregan, Martin McDermott, Declan Curtin, Richie Purcell, Mark Comerford, Ted Steede, Ronan Mooney (0-1), Keith Hennessy, Aidan Creamer (0-3), Justin O’Halloran (0-4), Terry McCann (0-2), Mike Martin (0-2), Kieran Gallagher. Sub: Tom McDonagh.