Sunday 20 October 2019

History-makers Leitrim secure promotion from Division 4 and book final date in Croke Park

Leitrim 1-9 London 0-7

Damien Moran and Shane Quinn of Leitrim celebrate
Damien Moran and Shane Quinn of Leitrim celebrate

Sean McGoldrick

Leitrim football has achieved a significant breakthrough by securing promotion from Division 4 for the first time since the current league structure was established in 2007.

Having achieved five wins on the spin they are guaranteed Division 3 football in 2020 and will face Derry in the Division 4 League final at the end of the month.

It will be Leitrim's first appearance at headquarters since losing to Louth in the Tommy Murphy Cup final in 2006.

Ironically, this was Leitrim's least convincing performance of their five-match unbeaten run in the current league against a London side who had won just one game during the campaign.

Given that Leitrim's population is just over 31,000, more than ten per cent of the county's resident assembled in Pairc Sean MacDiarmada in the estimated attendance of 4,000. Most came in expectation of seeing a historic victory.

But Leitrim have faltered in these situations before and the nervousness of the crowd appeared to transmit to the players who were incredibly edgy against the visitors, who played a possession game but lacked a cutting edge in the final third of the field.

London scored the first two points while Leitrim squandered a host of chances before a decidedly fortunate goal from wing back Shane Quinn after 23 minutes – their first score of the game – gave them a flattering advantage which they never lost.

Helped to some generous calls from referee Liam Devenney, Leitrim led 1-4 to 0-4 at the break.

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On a sticky pitch and against a resolute London defence, Leitrim continued to struggle to chalk up scores after the break but London never really threatened to score the goal which would have scuppered the home side's ambitions.

Ultimately Leitrim ran out 1-9 to 0-7 winners and a feature of the game was that their defence scored 1-3 from play on a day in which their top scorer Ryan O'Rourke was below par. In the end it mattered little on a day when the result was more important than the performance.

But if Leitrim are to continue to progress they will have to show a vast improvement on this performance.

Leitrim: D McKiernan; M McWeeney, P Maguire, A Flynn (0-1); S Quinn (1-0), M Plunkett, R Mulvey (0-2); S Moran, P Dolan; S McWeeney, D Flynn (0-1, 1f), D McGovern; G Plunkett (0-2), E Sweeney (0-1), R O'Rourke (0-2, 1f). Subs: D Moran for Dolan 52m; E Ward for Flynn 65m; E Mulligan for O'Rourke 68m; G McGloin for D Moran 70 + 3.

London: D McDonagh; M Moynihan, P Butler, C O'Neill; D Dunne, D Carrabine, R Jones; M Clarke, M Gottsche; A McGarvey, L Gavigan (0-4, 3f), P McGirr (0-1); C Doran (0-1, 1f), J Hynes, B Tully. Subs: F McMahon (0-1) for McGarvey 48m; L Gallagher for Doran 48m; S Hickey for Hynes 54m; N Coffey for Hynes 68m; J Winters for Jones 68m.

Referee: Liam Devenney (Mayo)

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