Four Provinces 0-8
THE rematch of last year's county senior final was a mismatch as Leitrim dominated and ran out easy winners on the strength of a 1-10 to 0-3 point scoring display in the second half.
Four Provinces opened the game with two points from Ciaran Donnelly, as he chipped over a free when Paul Walsh was fouled, and then floated a nice score over from play.
For the next 10 minutes, however, the game wavered back and forth, with both sides guilty of a host of kicking mistakes. Finally Leitrim put a stop to the insanity and put a trifecta of points on the board from Mike Creegan, Dan Doona and Donal Hartnett with a free.
Leitrim were settled now and it showed as their midfield was now dominant. They were winning the breaks in both directions and it gave their half forward line chances to feed off.
They did effectively, with Doona spraying the ball into the corners for Michael Travers and Creegan to chase. Doona fired a free over and Travers and Hartnett made it a 0-6 to 0-2 lead.
They had been more dominant than the score board showed. As the final 10 minutes moved through Four Provinces started to come into the game far more and it began with the backline.
Mark Peacock, Marty Swift and Michael Gallagher were intercepting passes and storming out with possession. It was not always productive when the ball found the attack, but it was negating everything that Leitrim were trying to achieve.
After Donnelly fired a free over Mike Higgins fired over two points from the left and the right - both were gems - to make it a one point game. It brought them completely back into a contest that they had looked like losing track of.
The second half had untold action in the first three minutes with both sides having glorious chances. Doona sent a screamer over the bar off the fingers of Michael Grimes within 30 seconds,
Moments later Four Provinces worked the ball into attack where it dropped to Higgins. His soccer style effort went agonizingly wide for Four Ps.
After the let off Leitrim took over. They put five points on the board without reply while allowing the physical nature of the game to affect Four Provinces more than them. It was very physical at this point, with late hits across the field.
With 15 minutes gone the 2007 champions finally got their first score of the second half. Swift fired over from the right wing after Higgins set him free. Higgins followed with a brilliant point from deep in the right corner, but Leitrim awoke to the revival.
They moved the ball methodically down the field and forced the best from Grimes. He denied Doona with a diving foot save, and then made a brave stop from a Hartnett thundering drive.
It lifted the side and they attacked the Leitrim goal with a vengeance. Three chances however went a begging as Pa Ryan made a stop on an Anthony Moore drive, and the defense cleared off the line on the resulting melee of legs and arms.
It left the hill too far to climb for the out-of-towners. Points from Hartnett and Robbie Moran increased the lead to 1-15 to 0-7 with five minutes on the clock and a battle with Down ahead.
A fantastic team display by Leitrim that propels them back into the favorite group for the senior championship. They will start as such against Down. Alan Foley, Michael Mulcahy and Barry Kennedy led a strong display by the defense. Adrian O'Connor was outstanding. Dan Doona is coming back to his best with Donal Hartnett and Robbie Moran firing 1-7 over between them.
Michael Grimes had a couple of breathtaking saves, Marty Swift won his slot hands down, Barry Quinn fought hard against huge odds. The four men in the middle were as big a quadrant as seen in years.
Mike Higgins fired over four lovely points for the Four Ps, but he ploughed a lonely furrow up front.
Four Provinces: 1 Michael Grimes, 2 Mark Peacock, 3 Patsy Moore, 4 David Doyle, 5 Marty Swift (0-1), 6 Mickey Gallagher, 7 Ryan Dillon, 8 Barry Quinn, 9 Liam Moore, 10 Padraic Porter, 11 Ciaran Donnelly (0-3), 12 Paul Walsh, 13 Anthony Moore, 14 Mike Higgins (0-4), 15 Barry Daly. Subs: Joe Quinn, Chris Ryan.
Leitrim: 1 Pa Ryan, 2 Alan Foley, 3 Aiden Power, 4 Michael Mulcahy, 5 Niall Maguire, 6 Barry Kennedy, 7 Conor Burke, 8 Kenny O'Connor (0-2), 9 Adrian O'Connor (0-1), 10 Mike Creegan (0-1), 11 Dan Doona (0-4), 12 John Goldrick, 13 Robbie Moran (1-2), 14 Donal Hartnett (0-5), 15 Michael Travers (0-1). Subs: Kieran Keaveney, Danny O'Sullivan.
Referee: Sean Jones (Fermanagh).
Man of the match: Dan Doona (Leitrim).