Leitrim used an onslaught of scoring in a 10 minute period in the first half and a brilliant 20 minute period of midfield dominance by Brendan Quigley to overcome a resolute Cavan side in this senior football contest. The final score was Leitrim 1-13, Cavan 1-9.
Cavan made the winners battle all the way but were hurt by their inability to score in the last 20 minutes of the contest when they only put 0-1 on the board.
When the chips were down in the first half Quigley was superb as he won the kickout repeatedly; incredible the Cavan kickouts kept coming his way. By the time midfield was again breaking in Cavan's direction the damage was done.
Added to the mix was a pivotal swap in positions of Kevin Meaney and Declan McKenna for Leitrim, with the Armagh man McKenna solidifying the back line.
The storm blew in two directions in the first half, but it was the damage it inflicted in its wake that gave Leitrim a 1-7 to 0-6 halftime lead. Cavan came out the gate like gangbusters with five of the first six scores, leaving the side in a 0-5 to 0-1 lead with 12 minutes gone.
Richie Morgan started it with a lovely score within 45 seconds of the throw in when Mike Reilly set him up. It was followed by a long drive, but Brendan O'Sullivan and an Eoin Ward score cancelled out a Pat Glynn screamer when Rory Woods and McKenna teamed up to set him free.
Further points from Morgan and Cosgrove, the second when Ciaran Hughes punched out when he could or should have caught the ball, added to the total. They also had a Gary Walsh that rolled calmly wide. I'm sure he would want another chance at it.
Leitrim were on their heels but they reacted in the positive. It started with the switch of McKenna and Meaney, with Meaney really coming alive due to the new freedom. The Leitrim storm was far more destructive.
Before Cavan scored again Leitrim had put 1-4 on the board. Quigley thundered into the game with his fielding and distribution clinical.
Woods had three points in a row with two coming from frees, before Glynn had his second point of the game when a defensive fisted clearance dropped to his sector.
When a towering Gavin McPartland ball dropped into the square with seven minutes left in the half it broke off the fingers of Kenny O'Connor to the opportunist Glynn again. His low drive found the net and the three time champions were in front for the first time.
Cavan after a 12 minute famine had their sixth, but again Woods punished as he had the final two points of the half.
Cavan again started brightly with a point from Ward after Morgan fired a perfect cross field pass to the center forward. Two points from Woods, the first a straight up drive from the right wing, the second a free when Quigley was fouled, added to the lead. They were now 1-9 to 0-7 ahead but Cavan again pushed on.
Sean Kelly started a move from the back that went through the hands of O'Sullivan and Ward before Kevin Conlon fired the ball low to the net.
Walsh followed with a free after Conlon did ferocious work to set him up, and with 13 minutes gone they were within one of the winners.
Cavan were having the best of the breaks in the middle now as O'Sullivan and Reilly came to grips with the monster Quigley. It wasn't all translating into scores, however, as the end pass or shot let them down.
Paul McComiskey had a brace for Leitrim to give his side a cushion, but again Conlon got involved and was fouled for a free that Walsh converted.
Despite tremendous pressure it would be the last Cavan score. They were in hard luck, however, when Adrian O'Connor scored for Leitrim as Ronan McGinley was fouled in the middle of the park, but a throw up resulted after a small loud discussion between the players. Reilly was the first Cavan player to arrive into the scene.
The same thing had happened in the first half but the close in free for Leitrim was left in place. On this occasion it was to prove very costly for the Breffni boys. McComiskey added a point from a free for the four point lead and the place in the final on September 29.
For the winners it was an extremely close call. If Cavan had Enda Reilly in their lineup it may have been a far different outcome. That said, the defense of Leitrim really stepped up when the chips were down. Five scores in the first 12 minutes given up, just five scores in the next 38.
Ciaran Hughes had a tremendous outing, and his marking job on Gary Walsh was top class. Declan McKenna when he moved to center back was pivotal. A natural defender, he excelled. Mike Creegan got stronger as the hour wore on, with Lonan Maguire also doing a very good job especially carrying the ball out of the defense.
Brendan Quigley had a brilliant half hour which helped to turn the game, while Paul McComiskey finished the contest on fire on the scoreboard and in open play. An excellent link man for the defense. Rory Woods did all that was asked of him but was very fortunate to stay on the field for a tackle on Ronan McGinley in the second half.
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