In a game where a draw was the fairest result, Cork and Leitrim played a contest where both sides had chances to win, but both were also guilty of bad misses and bouts of play that would not get them a result.
After the hour, they will both look back at 10 minute periods when they went direct, Cork to open the second half, Leitrim to close it, but little else. A point gained.
In the low scoring first half the sides put three points each on the board. There was never a scoring flurry as the scores were spread out over the 30 minutes.
Indeed, we went 15 minutes in the middle without a white flag. Tadgh Foley, Gary Lowney andSean Purcell with a free had the Rebel scores, while Dan Doona and Adrian O’Connor with two had the Leitrim reply.
Cork did have a great scoring chance when Jason Kelly soloed for 60 yards, but his fisted effort went wide, although he did appear to be fouled at the end.
Leitrim used the long ball into O’Connor on a number of occasions, but Liam Hanley was winning the encounter. O’Connor was lucky to escape with a yellow when he hit Hanley in his frustration after a foul.
That being said, it was still all square at the end of the first half three up.
Cork did add two points to their total in the first six minutes of the second half. The second arrived after another long Kelly solo after Derek Courtney set him off.
While Doona had a point in reply, Cork added a brace with Shea Furlong the recipient of a Pat Mahoney pass when Mahoney shrugged of Alan Lowney casually and gave the ball to Furlong with the quick free.
Leitrim clawed their way back in the contest over the last 12 minutes. They drew level with three unanswered points, with Kenny O’Connor setting up the first and scoring the next two. Granted he took quite a few steps for one of them, but with no whistle sounding he fired over.
The game finished with Cork having one last dramatic chance for victory. A long BAL from Kelly sailed into the square with 30 seconds on the clock. Lowney rose high in front of his marker and Pa Ryan the Leitrim keeper. He flicked the ball goalward, but it came back off the foot of the post and rebounded to safety.
Cork had no bench, which meant that their starters put in for a long day. Liam Hanley had an excellent hour and won the clash with Adrian O’Connor by being first to the low ball and keeping the high one from his hands. Paddy Harrington and John McLoughlin also had valuable contributions.
Gary Lowney broke a lot of ball in the middle of the park, while Jason Kelly had some very positive moments. Kelly had a running commentary with the referee all day, however, and it didn’t help his cause. Mike Travers and Sean Purcell living on scraps were the best of the forwards.
Leitrim had a bevy of stars on parade but just a few performed to their capabilities. Lonan Maguire,
Cathal Matthews and Pat Madden in passages were prominent. Kenny O’Connor saved them with his play in the final 10 minutes and was close to man of the match for that alone. Dan Doona had two touches of magic but was out of it for long periods.
Leitrim: 1 Pa Ryan, 2 Lonan Maguire, 3 Alan Lowney, 4 Dermot Keane, 5 John Goldrick, 6 Kieran Scannell, 7 Cathal Matthews, 8 Pat Madden, 9 Jeff Farrell, 10 Colm Cronin, 11 Kenny O’Connor (0-2), 12 Paul O’Hara (0-1), 13 Dan Doona (0-2), 14 Adrian O’Connor (0-2), 15 Danny O’Sullivan. Subs: Shane Sweeney, Paddy Daly.
Cork: 1 Darren O’Mahoney, 2 Paddy Harrington, 3 Liam Hanley, 4 Derek Courtney, 5 John Fitzpatrick, 6 John McLoughlin, 7 Gary Hanley, 8 Jason Kelly (0-1), 9 Gary Lowney (0-1), 10 Francie Cleary, 11 Mike Travers, 12 Shea Furlong (0-1), 13 Tadgh Foley (0-1), 14 Pat Mahoney, 15 Sean Purcell (0-3).
Man of the match: Liam Hanley (Cork).
Referee: Martin O’Connor.