Sub Kennedy's brace spoils Mulligan debut as Leitrim edge it
Leitrim 3-10 London 0-16
Owen Mulligan's London debut ended in disappointment as Leitrim escaped from Ruislip with a precious victory. Tyrone legend Mulligan was a late inclusion in the London line-up at the redeveloped McGovern Park and turned from arch poacher to provider, teeing up his team-mates for scores as they threatened a repeat of their 2013 Connacht series win over Leitrim.
Mulligan drew London level on 43 minutes and then played a central part in Liam Gavaghan's point, but the Exiles' hopes were dashed by Leitrim sub Ronan Kennedy, who scored two goals in three minutes.
"We trained hard for this, we trained really hard. We are all gutted in there," said Mulligan.
"We believed in ourselves today. I was only brought in to the squad to help the forwards and then I end up having a crack myself and it was an honour for me to come out and play for London.
"You come over here and you want to play a bit of football and you are asked to come in at the highest level - of course you are going to, you are a GAA man.
"You seen it there, they might not have been good in the league, but in championship that's when they rise, when everyone is tested and judged and the London team is no different."
London were slow out of the traps, but were still on level terms at the end of the first quarter, largely due to Leitrim profligacy.
However, when Brendan Gallagher threaded a wonderful pass into the path of Darragh Rooney on 20 minutes and the corner-forward found the net, the dam looked set to burst.
Leitrim, though, let their five-point lead slip as they went 16 minutes without a score and London hit six without reply.
Rory Mason blasted a shot over the bar on 46 minutes and hit the post moments later as London led by two, and a goal looked likely.
However, it arrived at the other end as Kennedy twice punished naive defending.
He found the top corner with a precise shot and moments later he took a ball over the top and curled around the onrushing Gavin McEvoy.
London tried their utmost to mount a comeback, with Brendan Flynn parrying a Gavaghan shot, and although they made it a two-point game with six minutes remaining Leitrim managed to hold on and book a semi-final date with neighbours Roscommon.
"We knew that we were facing into a very difficult challenge," said Leitrim manager Brendan Guckian.
"They made it very difficult for us. I think Ronan Kennedy coming on and taking those two goals was the difference. Ronan has done it in the past and thankfully he stood up and done it again today.
"But we need to be more confident in our own abilities. We have good footballers and we have a good team and we need to show that and express ourselves a bit more."
Scorers - Leitrim: R Kennedy 2-0, D Rooney 1-2, D Moran 0-3, K Beirne 0-2 (1f, 1 '45), D McGovern, B Gallagher (f), G Plunkett 0-1 each.
London: L Gavaghan 0-8 (2f), R Mason 0-4 (2f), C Doran 0-2, M Gottsche (f), O Mulligan 0-1 each.
Leitrim: B Flynn 7; M McWeeney 6, R Gallagher 7, P Maguire 7; J Rooney 6, D Wrynn 7, O Madden 6; S Moran 7, D Moran 8; D McGovern 7, B Gallagher 7, R O'Rourke 6; K Beirne 6, C Gaffney 6, D Rooney 7. Subs: R Kennedy 8 for Gaffney (39), W McKeon 7 for R Gallagher (43), G Plunkett 7 for D Moran (51), N Plunkett 6 for Madden (55), C Cullen 6 for S Moran (63).
London: G McEvoy 7; P Butler 7, C Coyne 6, C O'Neill 6; M Jordan 8, R Jones 6, Ciara n Dunne 7; A McDermott 7, L Gavaghan 9; M Carroll 6, M Gottsche 8, J Branagan 6; R Mason 7, C Doran 6, O Mulligan 7. Subs: K Hughes 6 for Doran (54), G Crowley 6 for Carroll (54), D Carrabine 6 for Ciaran Dunne (56), Colin Dunne 6 for Jordan (66).
Ref - N Mooney (Cavan)