Talisman Emlyn Mulligan contributed half of the winners’ tally in a low-scoring but intense hour at Markievicz Park — Leitrim’s first appearance in the final of this January competition.
Ahead by three points at the break, 0-5 to 0-2, Leitrim’s lead never dipped below two points, although Sligo did improve, and Leitrim’s eighth point in the final minute, from Brian McDonald, could just have easily been a goal but the burly full-forward opted to blast over.
Brian ‘Barney’ Breen, Leitrim’s joint-manager along with George Dugdale, believes this result means Leitrim, who play New York next October as a reward for winning here, have set down a marker for 2013.
“I think we’ve turned a corner in the sense that the fear of winning is now no longer there. I’ve often seen Leitrim teams in the past, when they would have been two or three points up, and would think they weren’t entitled to be ahead and they would end up losing.
Sligo’s Kevin Walsh, whose charges were sluggish except for Neil Ewing’s brisk display and a couple of fine points from Brian Egan, was disappointed with aspects of his side’s display.
“I felt we were slow in releasing the ball and there were times when we could have put the ball into the danger area but didn’t. Leitrim had a lot of players back but the type of game we played allowed them to do that, which was disappointing.”
Scorers for Leitrim: Emlyn Mulligan 0-4 (3f, 1 45), Brian McDonald, Ray Cox, Danny Beck, Cian Reynolds 0-1 each.
Scorers for Sligo: Adrian Marren 0-2 (2f), Brian Egan (1f) 0-2 each, Mark Breheny 0-1.
LEITRIM: C McCrann, A Wynne, C Egan, P Maguire, D Beck, P Brennan, C Clarke, W McKeon, P McGowan, G Hickey, E Mulligan, J Glancy, R Cox, B McDonald, A Croal.
Subs: K Conlon for A Croal (44); C Reynolds for G Hickey (49); C Beirne for R Cox (52); B Brennan for P McGowan (56).
SLIGO: A Devaney, C Harrison, J Martyn, B Kennedy, N Ewing, M Quinn, B Curran, S Gilmartin, A McIntyre, Brendan Egan, J Clarke, F Quinn, M Breheny, K Sweeney, Brian Egan.
Subs: S McManus for J Clarke (h-t); A Marren for K Sweeney (h-t); K Cawley for J Martyn (44); N Murphy for M Breheny, 55.
Referee: Jerome Henry (Mayo).