Wednesday 21 February 2018

Carew delight as Sligo learn from Rossies pain

Sligo 2-15 Leitrim 0-10

Niall Murphy: Five points from play. Photo: Sportsfile
Niall Murphy: Five points from play. Photo: Sportsfile

Sligo manager Niall Carew said they learned a lot from the pain of losing an eight-point interval lead against Roscommon in the Connacht semi-final.

And this time round, when they again took a lead of eight points into the break having played with the wind, they knew how to close out the deal and bring Leitrim's 2016 championship campaign to an end.

And in the process, Sligo chalked up their biggest scoreline in 24 qualifier games and also their largest winning margin in those games. "We were eight points up at half time again, similar conditions as well. I suppose we did learn a good bit," said Carew.

"We probably dropped our sweeper back deeper this time and made sure we tracked all the runners. But not conceding a goal is a big plus for us going forward.

"We worked very hard on that. I thought we struggled against Roscommon with the runners from deep.

"We worked very hard on that over the last few weeks, and it paid dividend today. I'm very pleased, and a scoreline of 2-15 is always good."

Carew positioned Niall Murphy on the edge of the square in the absence of injured full-forward Pat Hughes and the Coolera/Strandhill clubman delivered in style.

He landed five points from play in the opening half with the wind, and Sligo never looked back after leading by 0-12 to 0-4 at the interval. "We can play him anywhere from 9 right up to 15. He's going to be dangerous wherever he plays," added Carew.

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Sligo pushed on in the second-half and Kyle Cawley soloed through a tiring defence to get the opening goal after 49 minutes.

And the record win was secured when sub Darragh Cummins got a late goal, by which time Leitrim were down to 14 men when Gary Reynolds was black-carded with all six subs on the field.

Leitrim manager Shane Ward said it was a disappointing way for his second year in charge to end but he intends to stay on for a scheduled third season.

They only won their second ever qualifier game against Waterford recently, but their hopes of building on that never materialised once Sligo pulled away coming up to the interval.

"We'll take the week to consider how we move forward," said Ward.

"I'm very committed to Leitrim GAA in general. I've done a lot of coaching with them and I hope to do the same in the future.

"It's been a progressive campaign. We won a qualifier game. Little steps of progress are major steps for us and we're very much focused on that," added Ward.

Four points without reply doubled Sligo's lead coming up to the break and left Leitrim with too much of a gap to bridge.

They needed a goal or two to get back into contention but with only six goals in the 16 qualifier games - and none in their last four matches in the back-door system - they never looked like having the firepower to stage a serious comeback, having left themselves with just far too much to do.

"It was disappointing from our point of view. We expected a better performance than that. Expected the game to be a lot closer than it was.

"I think we lost the game in the first-half. Disappointed with the lads' response in the first-half because they were well-prepped for the game.

"We could have kicked three or four scores in the second half but the ball went wide so that killed the game. It would have been a six-point turnaround but we just didn't do it."

Scorers - Sligo: N Murphy 0-5, M Breheny 0-4 (2f), Kyle Cawley, D Cummins 1-0 each, A Marren 0-3 (1f, 1'45), J Hynes, K O'Donnell, B Egan 0-1 each. Leitrim: E Mulligan 0-4 (4f), N O'Donnell 0-2, D Wrynn, R Kennedy (f), D Sweeney, C Gaffney 0-1 each.

Sligo: A Devaney 7; D Maye 6, K McDonnell 7, G O'Kelly-Lynch 6; Keelan Cawley 7, E Flanagan 6, Brendan Egan 7; J Hynes 7, A McIntyre 6; A Marren 6, M Breheny 7, N Ewing 6; Brian Egan 7, N Murphy 8, Kyle Cawley 7. Subs: C Breheny 6 for Hynes (47), P Clarke 7 for Brian Egan (51), L Henry 6 for Maye (63), N Gaughan 6 for O'Kelly-Lynch (65), C Nally 6 for Kyle Cawley (67), D Cummins 7 for Marren (69).

Leitrim: B Flynn 6; P Maguire 6, R Gallagher 5, K McHugh; S McWeeney 5, G Reynolds 6, T Mulvey 5; S Moran 6, P McGowan 5; C Gilheaney 5, E Mulligan 6, K Conlan 6; R Kennedy 6, D Wrynn 6, J Rooney 5. Subs: N Woods 5 for Rooney (19), D Sweeney 5 for McGowan (33), N O'Donnell 6 for Gilheaney (34), A Croal 6 for Gallagher (36), C Gaffney 6 for Mulvey (51), R O'Rourke 5 for Moran (60).

Ref: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).

Irish Independent

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