Man of the match: Alan Hearty (Armagh).
Referee: Sean Jones.
Second half a breeze for Leitrim
Leitrim 0-18 Cork 1-6
The rematch of the 2010 senior football final was close for a half-hour in this semi before Leitrim pulled away easily in the second half for the win.
An eight point margin in that half alone gave them a confident victory, with Monaghan pair Rory Woods and Lonan Maguire both having tremendous outings.
Leitrim opened quickly with three points in the first six minutes. The best of the bunch was a running score by Dermot Keane when he did a lot of work before driving over the lathe from 20 yards out.
Cork settled down and pulled two points back with scores from Brian Kelleher, a huge drive, and Jason Kelly popping a free over.
The game was being played intensely, but a series of wides by Leitrim hurt their chances.
Dan Doona had a point on 20 minutes, but immediately on the kickout Cork moved the ball up the field. A long ball was misjudged by the defense, with Kelly flicking it forward to Ronan Caffrey. He hit the post with his first effort but connected on the rebound to drive it to the net.
Shane Sweeney and Caffrey again swapped points as the half wound down, but Paudge O’Connor had the equalizer when he linked with Sweeney to leave it all even at 0-6 to 1-3 as the sides headed for the break.
The second half was all Leitrim. They again had the first three points of the half with Woods, Doona and Keane the men on the mark.
After a Kelly free on 10 minutes, Leitrim added a further five points to their total with four coming from play as they used quick and efficient ball out of the defense to always waiting players.
Alan O’Sullivan was having a terrific day while Maguire was outstanding at the rear.
The game had a brief skirmish to mar it half way through the stanza, with Tom Nolan receiving a red for his part in it. In the scheme of things over the weekend it was harmless, however.
Mark Cronin had Cork’s second point after 22 minutes, but Woods, Ken O’Connor (a fisted effort) and Kieran Tavey closed out the scoring in confident form.
Leitrim will head into the final as favorites and rightfully so. Kevin O’Brien, Lonan Maguire and Paudge O’Connor are small in stature in the full back line, but large in ability and heart. They gave little away over the hour.
Alan O’Sullivan is a class center half. His ability to spray the ball around is top notch. Dermot Keane had two very good points and covers a lot of ground.
Dan Doona fired over six points, with the man on his shoulder Rory Woods having his best shooting day of his Leitrim career. In the second half he stayed closer to goal and he showed his ability when he received the ball. Shane Sweeney had a good first half with Kieran Tavey also very active.
Cork was missing quite a few of their players from earlier in the year. Sean McNamee, Gary Hanley and Liam Hanley fought gallantly at the back. Surprising to see Hanley being taken off.
Derek Courtney was lost with a broken nose. Rory Stafford and Gary Lowney had some positive moments in the first half; Ronan Caffrey battled throughout but was on a tough opponent in Maguire.
Leitrim: 1 Pa Ryan, 2 Kevin O’Brien, 3 Paudge O’Connor (0-1), 4 Lonan Maguire, 5 Mike Creegan, 6 Alan O’Sullivan (0-1), 7 Ciaran Scanlon, 8 Pat Madden, 9 Dermot Keane (0-2), 10 Dan Doona (0-6), 11 Rory Woods, (0-5), 12 Jeff Farrell, 13 Ciaran Tavey (0-1), 14 Kenny O’Connor (0-1), 15 Shane Sweeney (0-1). Subs: Tom Nolan, Adrian O’Connor.
Cork: 1 Darren O’Mahoney, 2 Sean McNamee, 3 Gary Hanley, 4 Paddy Harrington, 5 Liam Hanley, 6 Derek Courtney. 7 John Fitzpatrick, 8 Gary Lowney, 9 Rory Stafford, 10 Ian Rowland, 11 Brian Kelleher (0-1), 12 Francie Cleary, 13 Mark Cronin (0-1), 14 Jason Kelly (0-2), 15 Ronan Caffrey (1-1). Subs: Tadgh Foley, Pat Mahoney, Mike Travers.
Man of the match: Rory Woods (Leitrim).
Referee: John Fitzpatrick.
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