Seán Carrabine point sends Sligo back to Div 3 after cracker with Leitrim
Leitrim 2-11 Sligo 1-15
NFL Division Four;
Sizzling Seán Carrabine’s fine fisted point in the 75th minute of this cracker in Carrick-on-Shannon helped put Sligo back in Division Three for the first time since 2019.
And, on balance they deserved it, as it looked very grim for the Yeats County after sub Tom Prior put Leitrim in front by 2-11 to 1-13-after they trailed by eight points ten minutes into the second half.
Prior’s point came in the 70th minute, roared on by huge support in the 5,000 attendance and Leitrim had their chances to go further in front but were denied by some heroic Sligo defending.
And, Tony McEntee’s men somehow found the character and class to hit those two late points from the excellent Finnian Cawley and the inspirational Carrabine.
It looked like game over when the outstanding Pat Spillane rifled the ball to the roof of the Leitrim net after a brilliant move involving Carrabine and Cian Lally in the 41st minute.
Sligo led by 1-12 to 0-7 after deservedly leading by 0-9 to 0-5 at the break.
But Leitrim, who went 0-3 to 0-0 up in the first five minutes, stormed back into the match and two goals from sub Barry McNulty (18) and Aidan Flynn set up a frenetic finish.
And the home side can thank keeper Nevin O’Donnell who pulled off two magnificent saves from Niall Murphy and Carrabine midway through the second half.
But the withdrawal of Sligo’s two best players, Pat O’Connor and Pat Spillane was keenly felt-Spillane had a quad problem and O’Connor had cramp.
In their absence Sligo looked less potent in attack, but Carrabine and Cawley came good when it counted.
Buoyed by a big crowd Leitrim took off like a freight train with Shane Quinn giving a great kick pass into Donal Wrynn who made a mark and tapped over a point after a minute.
This was followed by a superb left-footed point from target man Keith Beirne who held off two Sligo defenders in the process.
And there was a huge roar from the crowd when Darragh Rooney hit a long- range effort in the 4th minute.
But there was a key moment in the 8th minute when Wrynn had another mark in front of the Sligo goal.
Instead of tapping the ball over the bar he elected to try and place Byrne, whose left footed effort shaved the post and wide.
Sligo sprung to life and hit three points in as many minutes from a Seán Carrabine free after the impressive dual star Finnian Cawley was fouled.
And then there was two excellent points from the marauding Cian Lally and Pat O’Connor.
Leitrim were getting turned over and were not able to cope with O’Connor who put Sligo in the lead with a flashing point.
O’Connor was fouled, and Niall Murphy pointed the free.
It was all Sligo at this stage as that deadly west Sligo duo of Carrabine and O’Connor pushed Sligo to a 0-8 to 0-4 lead.
Towering midfielder Paul Kilcoyne made it 0-9 to 0-4 before Darragh Rooney ended Leitrim’s scoring famine in the 30th minute.
Sligo led by 0-9 to 0-5 at the break but Leitrim’s talismanic full forward Beirne narrowed the gap on the resumption.
A sumptuous moved ended with Finnian Cawley bearing down on goal but he elected to take the point.
It got even better for Tony McEntee’s men in the 41st minute with that wonderful goal from Spillane and a further point from the youthful Luke Towey put Sligo ahead by 1-12 to 0-7.
It was then Leitrim threw on 18-year-old Barry McNulty and he made a real impact.
Sligo defender Eddie McGuinness made a brilliant block on the line from Leitrim’s Jack Heslin, but McNulty hit the rebound to the net.
He followed this up with a well struck mark in the 49th minute.
Darragh Rooney added another point to leave just a goal in it. as Sligo’s lead was whittled down to 1-12 to 1-9.
But in a breakaway, the inevitable Carrabine stretched the lead to four points.
It was a short respite however as Leitrim sped back down the field and had the Sligo goal under siege.
Sligo keeper Daniel Lyons pulled off two miraculous saves, but the ball broke to corner forward Aidan Flynn whose shot cannoned off both posts before nestling in the net.
Suddenly this was a one-point game and Leitrim went into the lead for the first time since the 5th minute through a great point from Wrynn and a similar effort from Tom Prior.
Sligo were staring into the abyss, but did not panic.
They showed character in buckets as Cawley hit an equalising point.
A draw was no good to Leitrim, but Carrabine struck to round off a truly frenetic second half and a memorable win for Sligo in the lion’s den.
Leitrim: Nevin O’Donnell; Paddy Maguire, Mark Diffley, Conor Reynolds Shane Quinn, Domhnall Flynn, Adam Reynolds ; Pearce Dolan, Donal Wrynne (0-2,mark); Darragh Rooney (0-3) Evan Sweeney (0-1), Paul Keaney; Aidan Flynn (1-0) Keith Beirne (0-4,2f), Mark Plunkett (21). Subs; Conor Farrell for Adam Reynolds, Jack Heslin for Domhnall Flynn (h-time), Tom Prior for Paul Keaney (45), Barry McNulty (1-1f) for Evan Sweeney (48) James Rooney for Mark Plunkett (60).
Sligo: Daniel Lyons; Nathan Mullen, Eddie McGuinness, Evan Lyons; Luke Towey (0-1), Brian Cox, Paul McNamara; Paul Kilcoyne (0-1) Pat Spillane (1-2); Cian Lally (0-1) Sean Carrabine (0-3 1f), Keelan Cawley; Finian Cawley (0-1) Patrick O’Connor (0-41f), Niall Murphy (0-1f).Subs: Mikey Gordon and Mark Walsh for Pat Spillane (57) and Brian Cox (58), Alan Reilly for Pat O’Connor (58), Luke Nicholson for Evan Lyons (66)
Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan).