The Lory Meagher Cup continued this weekend with Leitrim facing Lancashire
By Martin Mannering
Like their Warwickshire counterparts Lancashire came up short against visiting opposition despite an equally valiant effort. On a day of all seasons this match started in bright sunshine and finished in driving rain and wind.
The early exchanges were even enough possession wise with the difference being that Leitrim worked out where the posts were while Lancashire tallied up the wides.
Padraig O Donnell had the visitors off the mark from a placed ball and Karl McDermott doubled the lead within five. McDonnell punished another indiscretion before the Northwest side finally got off the mark with a Patrick Duggan free.
In truth the play was scrappy in the large as defences held sway and scores remained at a premium. Duggan and O’Donnell exchanged further frees with two apiece while sandwiched between those was a fine point from play by Brendan Coady to keep the home side in touch. As the game moved into the second quarter Leitrim began to exert their authority with Clement Cunliffe, Gavin O’Hagan and Colm Moreton particularly catching the eye.
The latter two hit a point each before Cunliffe launched a majestic score from his own half to cancel out a Duggan 65. Lancashire were struggling to keep in touch but were thrown a lifeline just before the break. Duggan launched a long distance free which dropped short.
A goal melee ended with the sliothar breaking out to Kelvin Magee who lashed it first time to the bottom left hand corner.
O’Donnell responded with a point from a 65 to leave it a two point game at the break. Seemingly taking heart fro that late goal Lancashire sprung from the blocks on the restart and were level within two minutes. Aiden Slattery fired over from the first attack and Joe Sheehan hit another when Nathan Unwin fielded the puck out and placed the full forward.
Unfortunately for the Saffrons they couldn’t maintain the momentum and Leitrin soon reestablished supremacy.
O’Donnell’s accuracy hurt Lancs again and after a Colm Moreton goalbound effort was cleared his brother Liam fired over.
Daire Maskey’s effort was cancelled out by a sublime strike from John Ryan over his left shoulder and O Hagan stretched the lead with another fine effort. Despite dominating possession Leitrim struggled to shake off their dogged opponents and with ten minutes left there was a single point between them. After adding to his tally of frees O Donnell was in the right place to latch onto a Clement Cunliffe drive into the Lancs defence to shake the net with six minutes left.
That appeared to be that but a minute later Duggan drove a low drive from 40m out which deceived everyone around the square and the sliothar found its way into the bottom left corner. Leitrim had the fitness and calmness though and as the winter weather strengthened Clement Cunliffe hit a great point from his own half.
With a minute of normal time left O Hagan broke clear to hit the killer goal and now there was no doubt. Colm Moreton and another 65 from O’Donnell applied the Coup de Grace to leave the scoreboard looking harsh on the Lancashire lads.
It was the first outing of the season for Lancs and it showed with a lack of cohesion at times and particularly when it came to the crunch they ran out of steam at the death.
LEITRIM: Declan Molloy, Vincent McDermott, Thomas Glancy, Fergal Earley, Liam Moreton (0-1), Clement Cunliffe (0-2), Niall McLoughlin, Gavin O’Hagan (1-2), Colm Moreton (0-2), Padraig O’Donnell (1-8,7f), John Ryan (0-1), David McGovern, James Glancy, Pauric McWeeney, Karl McDermott (0-1) SUBS: Zak Moradi(0-1) for Pauric McWeeney
LANCASHIRE: Thomas Goulding, Finian O’Callaghan, Seamus Richardson, Declan Walsh, Simon Wallace, David Coughlin, Adam O’Hare, Nathan Unwin (0-1), Colm McEoin, Brendan Coady (0-2), Patrick Duggan (1-4), Daire Maskey (0-1), Aiden Slattery (0-1), Joseph Sheehan (0-1), Kelvin Magee (1-0)