Wicklow rue missed chances as Leitrim win first qualifier

Leitrim 0-13 Wicklow 0-10

Wicklow rue missed chances as Leitrim win first qualifier

Leitrim 0-13 Wicklow 0-10

Leitrim shocked Wicklow to record a first ever win in the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers and land themselves a place in Monday’s Third Round draw.

James Glancy and Emlyn Mulligan, with a combined total of 11 points, downed the Leinster men in sun-splashed Carrick-on-Shannon.

But Wicklow will reflect on an attacking horror show which saw them shoot 16 wides, 10 of them in the second half when the game was well within their reach.

Barney Breen’s men displayed a self-belief and a level of desire which carried them to a famous victory which sparked wild celebrations among their fans in the 3,346-strong crowd.

The sides were level on six occasions in an evenly balanced opening half, with Leitrim working hard to break down their opponents’ defensive system.

Ray Cox and James Glancy had early scores for the home side, but the Leinster men, with Dean Healy raiding down the right flank and Peadar Burke and James Stafford winning the battle for possession around midfield.

Joey Kelly fired over Wicklow’s opening point, and Seanie Furlong stroked over a free, which was quickly cancelled out by Emlyn Mulligan.

Kelly’s second score brought Wicklow level, and he could have had a goal when sent clear by Furlong, but he blazed his shot over the bar.

Glancy thumped over his second score, but a spell of Leitrim pressure failed to deliver anything more than another Mulligan free.

And they were almost caught on the counter-attack, but goalkeeper Cathal McCrann produced a superb save to deny John McGrath.

Mulligan’s third free eased Leitrim ahead by 0-7 to 0-6 at the break, and the Melvin Gaels sharpshooter gave his side a positive start to the second half with two more accurately struck frees.

Now winning the majority of breaking ball around midfield, Barney Breen’s men were also increasingly tenacious in the tackle, forcing their opponents into a series of poorly directed shots.

And when an expansive move ended with substitute Gerry Hickey swinging over an inspirational point from the left wing, Leitrim led by four.

It took Wicklow 18 minutes to get their first point of the second half, a long range effort from substitute Nicky Mernagh.

But the misfiring Leinster men continued to rack up the wides, and when Stafford pushed forward to pick up a loose ball to fire in a shot, his hurried effort failed to trouble the goalkeeper.

Wicklow sensed that their season was hanging by a thread, and stepped up the tempo for Dean Healy and Furlong to narrow the gap, but Furlong and Glancy still had an eye for the posts, sealing it with late scores.

Scorers:

Leitrim: E Mulligan 0-6 (6f), J Glancy 0-5, R Cox, G Hickey 0-1 each.

Wicklow: J Kelly 0-3, S Furlong (1f), J McGrath 0-2 each, T Hannon (f), D Healy, N Mernagh 0-1 each.

LEITRIM: C McCrann, D Beck, A Wynne, P Maguire, C Clarke, E Williams, F McMorrow, D Sweeney, S Moran, P Brennan, E Mulligan, P McGowan, R Cox, J Glancy, K Conlon.

Subs: G Hickey for Sweeney, R Lowe for Moran, A Croal for Conlon, B McDonald for Cox

WICKLOW: J Flynn, S Kelly, A McLoughlin, A Byrne, D Healy, S Byrne, D Hayden, J Stafford, R Finn, D O’Sullivan, S Furlong, J Kelly, J McGrath, T Hannon, P Burke.

Subs: N Gaffney for A Byrne, C McGraynor for O’Sullivan, N Mernagh for Hannon, P Dalton for Kelly.

Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).

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