Leitrim 3-14 Louth 1-12
Leitrim’s Division 3 survival mission will go right to the wire following a rousing win over Louth in Dundalk.
The enigmatic Ryan O’Rourke inspired the Shannonsiders to a deserved first victory, which all but condemned the home side to Division 4.
It was a must-win for both side, but Leitrim were the better side throughout, and now look set for a winner-takes-all tussle with Tipperary on the final day, regardless of how results go on Sunday week.
Low on confidence, Louth struggled to curb O’Rourke’s influence all afternoon and the centre-forward left Bevan Duffy for dead in the 13th minute to fire past Fergal Sheeky.
Leitrim were the better side throughout the opening half, and twice led by four points, with O’Rourke and Mark Plunkett particularly influential.
Louth hung in there and two frees before the break from Ryan Burns and Tommy Durnin left two between the sides, 1-5 to 0-6.
Louth momentarily cut the deficit to the minimum with another Burns free after the break, but Leitrim responded magnificently, plundering 2-3 without reply.
Their second goal was a stonewall penalty, dispatched by Keith Beirne and when O’Rourke tapped home his second of the day from close range there was 10 points between the sides, 3-8 to 0-7.
A Ryan Burns’ penalty and black card for Fergal McTague briefly raised Louth hopes, but Leitrim comfortably held the gap at seven points during his spell in the sin bin.
Terry Hyland takes his team to Newry on Sunday week where Down will be hoping to continue their push for promotion, but thereafter all Leitrim eyes will be on that final day showdown with Tipp in Carrick-on-Shannon.
Scorers for Leitrim: R O’Rourke (2-3), K Beirne (1-4, 1-0 pen, 0-4f), D Rooney (0-3, 0-1 mark), D Wrynn (0-2 each), M Plunkett, C McGloin (0-1 each).
Scorers for Louth: R Burns (1-4, 1-0 pen, 0-2f), S Mulroy (0-2), L Jackson, B Duffy, G McSorley, C Downey, T Durnin (0-1f), D Byrne (0-1 each).
LEITRIM: D McKiernan; C Reynolds, P Maguire, F McTague; C McGloin, M Plunkett, J Gilheany; D Wrynn, R O’Rourke, A Flynn; D Rooney, K Beirne, S Moran.
Subs: O McCaffrey for K Keegan (65), P Dolan for Wrynn (70+1), R O’Rourke for Flynn (70+1), E Sweeney for Rooney (70+4).
LOUTH: F Skeeky; D Corcoran, D Campbell, J Craven; E Callaghan, E Carolan, J Clutterbuck; T Durnin, C Early; C Downey, B Duffy, C McKeever; S Mulroy, D Byrne, R Burns.
Subs: L Jackson for Early (43), G McSorley for Clutterbuck (56), C Grimes for Byrne (56), C Byrne for Burns (63).
Referee: L Devenney (Mayo).