Sligo U17s win Connacht Minor Shield with victory over Leitrim

Sligo 3-14 Leitrim 0-12

David O'Neill's Sligo U17s celebrate their Connacht Minor Shield victory in Markievicz Park. Pics: Carl Brennan.

Sligo's Conor Walsh celebrates scoring a goal in Markievicz Park. Pic: Carl Brennan.

thumbnail: David O'Neill's Sligo U17s celebrate their Connacht Minor Shield victory in Markievicz Park. Pics: Carl Brennan.
thumbnail: Sligo's Conor Walsh celebrates scoring a goal in Markievicz Park. Pic: Carl Brennan.
Sligo Champion

Electric Ireland Connacht Minor Shield Final

After enduring a tough opening half to last Friday’s Electric Ireland Connacht Minor Shield Final, David O’Neill’s Sligo turned the game on its head as they overwhelmed Leitrim to claim victory in Markievicz Park.

Leitrim were good value for a four point halftime lead, the only nagging feeling after a strong performance for the visitors that the lead should have been much greater as they wasted a couple of golden goal chances but the odds were very much in the favour of the green & gold.

But with Leitrim seemingly poised to push for victory, it was the Yeatsmen who turned up the heat as they overpowered them in the second half, incredibly outsourcing them 3-7 to 0-2 to run out comprehensive winners.

Two of the Sligo goals came late, one with four minutes left and the second in injury time, to put a somewhat unjust final tally on the scoreline but that doesn’t hide the fact that the second half saw Leitrim fade away completely as the home team upped their intensity and Leitrim were unable to cope.

You’d have got long odds on the final scoreline during the halftime break as Leitrim’s intensity, tackling and bright attacking play caused Sligo huge problems but perhaps the warning signs were there as Leitrim might have had one or two goals with a bit more clinical finishing.

Conor McDonagh opened the scoring for Sligo in the first minute but a fine point from Jack Kelly tied the scores before the Glencar Manorhamilton player turned provider for Paul Honeyman to get off the mark.

Leitrim had a let off when Sligo’s Eoin Tuffy saw his fisted effort thunder off the crossbar but a late foul from keeper Seán Carolan Morris led to a free converted by Aaron Lang on six minutes.

Kyle Russell was desperately unlucky not to find the net when Honeyman’s perceptive pass found the raiding Annaduff man in front of goal but his fisted effort blew over the bar. Honeyman then palmed the ball over the bar himself on 13 minutes.

The tit for tat continued with Josh McHugh, Lang (free) and Michael Carroll all swapping points with Paul Honeyman, the Ballinamore Sean O’Heslins clubman availing of a nice link-up with James Gilheaney to torment the Sligo defence.

But Leitrim started to pull away with Honeyman working the ball to Kelly for a point before James Gilheaney profited from a turnover and Sean Carolan Morris thumped a long range free over the bar to leave Karl Foley’s team five points to the good just before the break.

Sligo did crucially hit back with a well worked Liam Higgins point but it still looked good for Leitrim as they led 0-10 to 0-6 at the break.

Sligo got an early grip with Frankie Cullen doing well to intercept a Tuffy ball across the face of goal while Lang cracked a shot off the base of the Leitrim goal post either side of a Jim Molloy point.

Sub Eamon O’Mahony and Eamon Keane fired over points to cut the gap back to a point after six minutes before the game took a massive turn a minute later, Aaron Lang’s high, drifting shot from the left corner going across the face of the goal to where O’Mahony connected wonderfully with it, the ball hitting the keeper but still crossing the line.

That goal put Leitrim two points behind but Paul Honeyman almost engineered a perfect response only to see Sligo keeper James Cronin made a point blank save at the expense of a fifty that Carolan Morris dropped wide.

Conor McDonagh and Honeyman (free) swapped points as did Lang and sub Bailey McBride but Sligo were managing to stay at arms’ length with McDonagh, just before he was taken off, notching a third point on 48 minutes. With the game growing disjointed, Sligo secured the win when Lang converted a mark before midfielder Conor Walsh broke through the Leitrim defence on a rampaging run and fired the ball to the Leitrim net with less than four minutes left. Lang would add a free and Sligo grabbed a third goal in added time when they turned over the ball and sub Cillian Duggan fired home.

Leitrim won a late penalty only for Honeyman to see his effort beat the keeper but strike the base of the post and fly across the goal and away to safety, probably summing up Leitrim’s day as Sligo were deserved winners.

SLIGO; Scorers: Aaron Lang 0-5, 2f, 1M; Eamon O’Mahony 1-1, 1f; Conor McDonagh 0-3; Conor Walsh & Cillian Duggan 1-0 each; Eamon Keane, Josh McHugh, Liam Higgins, Jim Molloy & Michael Carroll 0-1 each

Team: James Cronin, Clyde Regan, Eamon Keane, Josh McHugh, Liam Higgins, Oran Harte, James Lavin, Conor Walsh, Eoin Tuffy (C), Dara Mostyn, Jim Molloy, Conor McDonagh, Aaron Lang, Michael Carroll, Cian Gallagher. Subs: Eamonn O’Mahony for Mostyn (HT); Marty Murray for McDonagh (50); Cillian Duggan for Carroll (56); Shane Murphy for Lavin (58); Kern O’Doherty for Tuffy (59)

LEITRIM; Scorers: Paul Honeyman 0-6, 2f; Jack Kelly 0-2; Sean Carolan Morris (f), Kyle Russell, James Gilheaney & Bailey McBride 0-1 each

Team: Seán Carolan Morris; Frankie Cullen; Eanna McNamara; Oran Foley; Dessie Wisley; Darragh Gardiner; Kyle Russell; Dara Greenan; Colm McLoughlin; Aaron Gardiner; James Gilheaney; Adam Gethins; Jack Kelly; Paul Honeyman; Senan Bohan. Subs: Brian Keaney for Bohan (25); Bailey McBride for Wisely (38); Gavin Gallagher for Gethins (53); Ruairi O’Rourke for Kelly (54); Cormac Moran for McLoughlin (56)

Referee: Aaron Clogher (Roscommon).