Leitrim are still on track for their three-peat as a blitz of goals in the second half, despite being a man down, put paid to Cork’s chances. Now it is the Kingdom against Leitrim in the senior final next Sunday. Leitrim started in style as Dan Doona showed his unquestioned class with a superb point which was quickly followed with a pointed free from Jamie Clarke, the Armagh man despite being well marshaled by Shaun McNamee would end up with a personal tally of 3-5, naturally with a little help from his friends.
However Cork soon got motoring to hit three points as Ben Brosnan(2) and Jason Kelly hit the target. Leitrim wasted chances before a clever pass from Rory Woods set up Clarke for another score. Cork had a sustained period of pressure that netted two points, one a long range free from Brosnan and the other a chip over from Francie Cleary after Alan Raftery’s shot came back from the crossbar. Still there was little between the sides as Leitrim hit back with two, one from Clarke and the other from Doona with the very constructive runs of Kieran McKeever being the common factor in both.
Tom Hardwick hit a fine point from the wing before a scintillating move involving Johnny Goldrick and Clarke ended with the latter being grounded in the penalty area. Clarke coolly and clinically dispatched the spot-kick to the corner of the net. However Leitrim’s major strike was quickly followed by a major blow as Leitrim’s work horse midfielder Paddy Kelly was issued a red card.
Leitrim, who went in leading by 1-5 to 0-6 at the half, got a great start to the second half as midfielder Adrian O’Connor launched a high ball into the square where Rory Woods deftly directed into the path of Clarke for him to plant it in the net. Cork failed to use the extra man effectively while Leitrim defenders Creegan, McKeever Donaghey and Fahey worked tenaciously to compensate for the man deficit.
Both sides would add a brace before Gary Lowney produced a brilliant save from David O’Gara as he was the last link on defense splitting move involving Donaghey, Clarke and Doona. However O’Gara had better luck with his next effort as he fielded a long free from McKeever and in the blink of an eye the net was bulging. Leitrim would continue to dominate as McKeever kept driving forward, thus preempting Cork attacks. Woods tagged on another point as did Brosnan from a free.
Both sides added goals, Clarke got his third with McKeever once again being the critical part of the goal scoring equation. Jason Kelly did manage to land a major for Cork after Rory Stafford laid off the ball, but it did little more than take the bad look of the scoreboard for the Rebels who were well and truly beaten in this encounter.
Cork: Gary Lowney, Shaun McNamee, Gary Hanley, Paddy Harrington, Rory Stafford, Eoin Dillon, Derek Courtney, Alan Raftery(0-1), Jason Kelly(1-1), Mickey Leneghan, Peter Hatzer, Francie Cleary(0-1), Ronan Caffrey, Tom Hardwick(0-1), Ben Brosnan(0-5). Subs. Gerald McCarthy, Brian Argue, Tadgh Foley, John Powers, Mike McSweeney, Sean Kinahane.
Leitrim: Pa Ryan, Mike Creegan, Brendan Donaghey, Darren Walsh, Peter Fahey, Kieran McKeever, Shane Maher(0-1), Adrian O’Connor, Paddy Kelly, Johnny Goldrick, David O’Gara(1-3), Ray OConnor, Jamie Clarke(3-5),
Rory Woods(0-1), Dan Doona(0-2). Subs. Mark Dobbin, Paddy Daly, Ken O’Connor, Kieran O Loughlin, Donal Harnett, Cathal Mathews. Referee Lawrence McGrath, Man of the Match Kieran McKeever