Leitrim continued their good form of recent weeks when they opened their league campaign with an impressive victory over promotion favourites Antrim in an entertaining game at Pairc Sean Mhic Diarmada, Carrick-on-Shannon.
The FBD League winners served early notice of their intentions with a Ray Cox pointed free and a Kevin Conlon converted '45' in the opening three minutes before Paddy Cunningham opened Antrim's account with a pointed free two minutes later.
Despite wind advantage, Antrim failed to capitalise and a succession of points from Emlyn Mulligan, Paul Brennan, Kevin Conlon and Tomas Beirne, put them five points ahead.
In the 34th minute, a low Robbie Lowe cross was flicked to the Antrim net by Tomas Beirne to give the hosts a deserved 1-8 to 0-3 half-time lead.
Antrim were much improved after the break and in the 43rd minute Niall McKeever finished to the net from a '45 by substitute Tomas McCann.
But the visitors failed to penetrate a sturdy Leitrim defence again, scoring only two pointed frees by Tomas McCann for the remainder of the game.
The visitors were reduced to 13 men in the closing minutes when full-back Martin Johnson received a second yellow card and Conor Murray a straight red, but, by then, the result was in little doubt.
SCORERS – Leitrim: T Beirne 1-1, E Mulligan 0-5 (4fs), P Brennan, K Conlon (1 '45') 0-2 each, R Cox 0-1f. Antrim: N McKeever 1-0, P Cunningham, T McCann 0-2f each, P Kelly (f), P Maguire 0-1 each.
Leitrim – C McCrann 8; B Prior 8, D Wrynn 8, P Maguire 8; P Brennan 8, G Reynolds 8, W McKeon 8; A Hickey 7, D Moran 7; K Conlon 7, R Lowe 7, F Clancy 7; E Mulligan (capt) 8,T Beirne 8, R Cox 7. Subs: J Mulligan 7 for Cox, G Hickey 7 for Lowe, D Sweeney 6 for F Clancy, J Glancy for Hickey, D Beck for Brennan.
ANTRIM – C Kerr 5; K O'Boyle 5, M Johnson 5, J Crozier 5; T Scullion 5, M Sweeney 5, J Laverty 5; N McKeever (capt) 6, M McCann 5; C Murray 5, M Pollock 5, P Kelly 5; P Cunningham 5, B Hasson 5, R McGrady 5. Subs: P Maguire 6 for McGrady, T McCann 6 for Pollock, C Duffin 5 for Kelly, B Neeson 5 for Hasson, R Murray 5 for Cunningham.
REF – C Brannigan (Down)