Leitrim provided an early Championship shock on Sunday as they deservedly defeated Sligo by 1-10 to 0-10.
The game’s crucial moment was Conor Beirne’s 58th minute goal. Leitrim had entered the break with a three point lead, but Sligo came out strongly and levelled the scores at 0-8 apiece. Beirne came to Leitrim’s rescue, scoring a good point to regain the lead and then rounding the Sligo keeper to score a vital goal.
Leitrim entered the game with seven players making their Championship debuts, but the youngsters showed few nerves. Sligo, conversely, were sloppy and struggled to gain a foothold early in the game.
Paul Brennan opened the scoring for Leitrim in the first minute, before Emlyn Mulligan struck a powerful free over the bar. Francis Quinn got Sligo off the mark in the sixth minute, but the Yeats County were being overrun by Leitrim, who added two more points through Wayne McKeon and Tomas Beirne.
Sligo slowly got themselves into the game, but regular wides disrupted their momentum. The teams traded points up to the break, with Leitrim leading 0-8 to 0-5. Marren had a goal chance for Sligo in the 28th minute, but the forward shot over.
Sligo’s good work early in the second half was undone by Beirne’s 1-1 salvo. Sligo replied immediately with a point but could not reduce the three point deficit.
Darren Sweeney missed from a dead ball opportunity and Sligo struck their ninth wide in the 66th minute. Leitrim took advantage of the slack finishing and a 68th minute Mulligan free increased the lead to four points and all but ended Sligo’s hopes. To add to the Yeats County’s woes, centre-half-back Brian Curren was red carded.
A small fracas broke out in injury time and Eamonn O’Hara and Emlyn Mulligan saw red for Sligo and Leitrim respectively.
David May scored a free deep into injury time but it was too late for Sligo. Leitrim wrapped up a surprising and convincing victory at Markievicz Park.