Ryan O’Rourke scored 0-7 as Leitrim advanced to Round 2 of the qualifiers with victory over Wicklow at Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon. Terry Hyland gained promotion from Division 4 of the NFL in his first year in charge, and this was his inaugural championship success with the county.
It finished 1-16 to 1-12 to Leitrim at Aughrim on 3 February but it was a cagey opening here, dominated by Wicklow goalkeeper Mark Jackson. Leitrim won the toss and their captain Micheal McWeeney opted to play against the slight breeze in the first half.
And Wicklow went ahead inside two minutes when midfielder Pádraig O’Toole got through the cover and fisted over rather than testing the reflexes of Cathal McCrann in the Leitrim goal. Pearce Dolan hit back with Leitrim’s first point in the third minute and moments later Domhnaill Flynn popped up to add a second point.
But there was no fluency to either teams’ play and Jackson scored the next couple of points. He converted a free and a 45 to edge his side in front. Ryan O’Rourke levelled proceedings for the third time, 0-3 to 0-3, in the 21st minute but that was from a free, as was Jackson’s third point.
O’Rourke (free) put the sides back on level terms again but Leitrim hit three-in-a-row with Shane Quinn and Paddy Maguire extending the gap. It was 0-6 to 0-4 in Leitrim’s favour, the biggest lead in the match so far. However, Mark Kenny (free) quickly put paid to that with his first point in the 29th minute.
Wicklow had their third different point scorer from a free when Rory Finn found his range to draw the sides level at 0-6 to 0-6, and with three minutes of normal time remaining in the half Finn doubled his tally. But that was answered by a stunning curling effort from O’Rourke before midfielder McCaffrey was shown a black card.
Wicklow could have doubled down on that right away but David Devereaux blasted his shot off the crossbar and Leitrim survived for a 0-7 to 0-7 scoreline at the interval.
Raymond Mulvey gave Leitrim the perfect start to the second half with a swiftly struck effort and after Jackson scored another outstanding free, Dolan and O’Rourke provided a 0-10 to 0-8 platform for Leitrim to build from.
Jackson came forward to slot his fifth point from a 45 in the 49th minute and a quickfire leveller followed from substitute Conor Healy. O’Rourke put Leitrim back in front as he continued his personal battle with the opposition goalkeeper. Jackson hit back.
But points from O’Rourke and Dolan put Leitrim in the ascendency. Dean Healy and O’Rourke traded points but Leitrim had enough in the tank.
R O’Rourke 0-7 (0-4f), P Dolan 0-3, P Maguire 0-1, S Quinn 0-1, D Flynn 0-1, R Mulvey 0-1, N Brady 0-1.
M Jackson 0-7 (0-5f, 0-2 45), R Finn 0-2 (0-1f), M Kenny 0-1 (0-1f), P O’Toole 0-1, C Healy 0-1, D Healy 0-1.
C McCrann; P Maguire, M McWeeney, A Flynn; R Mulvey, M Plunkett (Moran 70), C Reynolds (O Madden 64); O McCaffrey (D McGovern 35, black card), S Moran (J Gilheaney 69); D Flynn, S McWeeney (G Plunkett 65), S Quinn; E Sweeney (N Brady 60), P Dolan, R O’Rourke.
M Jackson; J Snell, R O’Brien, E Murtagh; D Devereaux (C Healy 44), S Mooney, D Fitzgerald; P O’Toole, D Healy; R Finn (C McGee 73), D Hayden (A McLoughlin 61), T Smith (C McGraynor 69); M Kenny, C O’Brien, P O’Connor (D Keane 61).
Barry Cassidy (Derry).