Leitrim 3-10 London 0-16
By Tony Tighe
Ronan Kennedy got Leitrim out of jail as he came off the bench to score two-second half goals at the redeveloped McGovern Park.
Kennedy was introduced early in the second half, midway through a 16-minute scoreless period where London had hit six points without reply to lead for the first time.
The Mohill clubman fired his side back in front of 50 minutes with a sweet strike to the top corner of the net and pounced for another three minutes later as Leitrim punished some naïve London defending.
Kennedy’s goals were the difference in a highly-competitive contest, where London-born captain Liam Gavaghan shone for the Exiles.
The focus was all on Owen Mulligan, who was a late inclusion in the London line-up, but he took a back seat as Gavaghan stole the show with eight points for his side.
The teams were level at 0-3 apiece after a low-quality opening quarter but Leitrim put daylight between the sides on 20 minutes Brendan Gallagher’s precise pass cut open the London defence and Darragh Rooney fired to the net.
Two late London points narrowed their deficit to 1-6 to 0-7 at the interval and they hit a further four after the restart to deservedly move in front.
But London were leading gaps at the back, going man-for-man instead of employing a sweeper, and they were punished twice in quick succession by Kennedy as Leitrim surged into a five-point lead.
London rallied and just two points separated the teams as the game entered injury time, but Keith Beirne and Gary Plunkett popped up with insurance scores to secure a Connacht semi-final date with neighbours Roscommon.
Leitrim: R Kennedy 2-0, D Rooney 1-2, D Moran 0-3, K Beirne 0-2 (1f, 1 ’45), D McGovern, B Gallagher (f), G Plunkett 0-1 each.
London: L Gavaghan 0-8 (2f), R Mason 0-4 (2f), C Doran 0-2, M Gottsche (f), O Mulligan 0-1 each.
Leitrim: B Flynn; M McWeeney, R Gallagher, P Maguire; J Rooney, D Wrynn, O Madden; S Moran, D Moran; D McGovern, B Gallagher, R O’Rourke; K Beirne, C Gaffney, D Rooney.
Subs: R Kennedy for Gaffney (39), W McKeon for R Gallagher (43), G Plunkett for D Moran (51), N Plunkett for Madden (55), C Cullen for S Moran (63).
London: G McEvoy; P Butler, C Coyne, C O’Neill; M Jordan, R Jones, Ciaran Dunne; A McDermott, L Gavaghan; M Carroll, M Gottsche, J Branagan; R Mason, C Doran, O Mulligan.
Subs: K Hughes for Doran (54), G Crowley for Carroll (54), D Carrabine for Ciaran Dunne (56), Colin Dunne for Jordan (66).
Referee: N Mooney (Cavan)