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NFL Division Four North: Sligo make extra man count

Sligo 2-18 - 0-17 Leitrim

Sligo made use of a man advantage for the entire second half of this derby clash to see off the challenge of neighbours Leitrim and get the Tony McEntee era off to a positive start in Markievicz Park this afternoon.

Aidan Flynn’s dismissal for catching Silgo’s Conor Griffin high right on the stroke of half time left Leitrim with a lot of work to do in the second half where a confident Sligo bagged two goals that proved to be the difference in the contest.

Both sides displayed their attacking intent from the get-go with Keith Beirne and Red Óg Murphy exchanging points before quick flurry of Sligo scores was capped off by the experienced Seán Carrabine’s first of his six scores of the afternoon from a free in the fifth minute. Leitrim then upped it a gear with their entire inside forward line contributing scores, a brace apiece from Beirne and Darragh Rooney before Evan Sweeney got on the scoresheet. Returning Sligo full forward Niall Murphy reduced the arrears to one, but Leitrim responded before the water break, Beirne and Leitrim midfielder Donal Wrynn notching from play, the latter a fine score off his left as he claimed a Sligo kickout and drove at their backline.

Momentum swung between the two sides in an open and fast paced second quarter. Sligo’s David Quinn scythed through the Leitrim rearguard but blasted a shot over the bar and inside duo Carrabine and Murphy tacked on points but Leitrim had an answer as Darragh Rooney hit his second and third of the day in quick succession, the former a mark before Mark Plunkett hit a lovely effort from wide on the left to put Leitrim four clear.

Sligo regained the momentum in the lead up to the break, Quinn hiiting another form play before Leitrim ‘keeper Brendan Flynn had to be at his best to tip a vicious Conor Lally shot over his crossbar. A Séan Carrabine free rounded out the scoring before Flynn’s dismissal, leaving Sligo a point in arrears but a man to the good at the break.

The rain that arrived at halftime stayed and left conditions slippery but Sligo were clearly emboldened and Seán Carrabine opened the scoring five minutes in with the first of his two points from play, his second coming six minutes later with a Murphy mark in between to take Sligo two clear. Leitrim were struggling to gain possession, and to keep it going beyond the middle third. They carved a goal chance out of nothing when Cillian McGloin sprang through the cover but Eamonn Kilgannon was equal to the effort, saving with his legs at the expense of a ’45. Mark Plunkett hit his second point of the day shortly after with seventeen minutes gone and it would be Leitrim’s only score of the quarter, underlining their difficulty against the man advantage.

Sligo’s fluency in attack and hard running was deserving of a goal and their first came in the twenty fourth minute of the second half as a high ball across the field from the corner from Red Óg Murphy found his namesake Niall and he fired an unstoppable left footed shot to the top corner, a score he will relish after a long injury lay off last year.

Former AFL Triallist Red Óg Murphy followed up with a point from play before some direct ball in from Leitrim led to a smart finish from Beirne, Leitrim’s inside forwards starved of possession that the could convert into scores. Both managers ran the bench, making use of the new rule allowing seven substitutions, but it was Sligo centre forward Conor Lally who was next to impress, turning over a short kickout from Flynn and rounding him on the short side to finish low to the net and put Sligo 2-16 to 0-14 in front.

Both sides traded scores as Leitrim tried manfully to eat into the deficit late on, Beirne and sub Conor Dolan trading points with Sligo subs Donal Conlon and Peter Naughton but Sligo ‘keeper Eamonn Kilgannon would have the last word, converting a 48 metre free straight in front of the posts to leave seven between the sides at the finish.

It’s winners against losers next weekend as Sligo travel to Corrigan Park to take on Antrim while Leitrim will be back in Avant Money Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada as they welcome Mickey Harte’s Louth, both knowing a win is now of paramount importance to keep promotion hopes alive.

Teams Leitrim: B Flynn, J Gilheaney, C Reynolds, A Flynn, P Maguire, O Madden, C McGloin, D McGovern, D Bruen, S Quinn, D Wrynn 0-1, M Plunkett 0-3, D Rooney 0-4, K Beirne 0-8, E Sweeney 0-1. Subs Used: K Keegan, T Prior, N McGovern, C Dolan 0-1, S Moran, R O’Rourke

Sligo: E Kilgannon 0-1, R Feehily, E McGuinness, E Lyons, K Cawley, P McNamara, P Laffey, D Cummins, P Kilcoyne, D Quinn 0-2, C Lally 1-2, C Griffin 0-1, S Carrabine 0-6, N Murphy 1-3, R Óg Murphy 0-2

Subs Used: P O’Connor, M Gordon, N Mullen, G Gorman, D Conlon, N Rooney, P Naughton 0-1

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