Roscommon exit All-Ireland race after derby thriller

Leitrim advance to semi-finals

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies IFC quarter-final
Leitrim 3-13 Roscommon 3-11

Two Roscommon players comfort each other on the pitch after narrowly losing the All-Ireland Ladies IFC quarter-final to Leitrim last Sunday in Ballinamore. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

There was heartbreak for the Roscommon ladies as Leitrim prevailed in a thrilling encounter in Ballinamore on Sunday to advance to the last four of the All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship.

Roscommon produced an excellent performance on the day but Leitrim were just too strong in attack and that proved the difference in the end.

It was very evenly contested throughout and the sides were level at three points apiece after 12 minutes. Roscommon made the breakthrough on 19 minutes when Aisling Hanly scored a fine goal to give Ollie Lennon’s side the edge.

The home team hit back with three points on the spin and the sides were level again by the 25th minute. Then just before half-time Leitrim’s Muireann Devaney put her team in front thanks to a fine goal. At the break they led by 1-7 to 1-5.

Three points for the home side on the resumption saw them stretch the lead to five, but Roscommon were never out of contention.

Three points for Roscommon without reply, followed by another very well-taken goal from Aisling Hanly in the 37th minute, saw them regain the lead (2-8 to 1-10).

In this rollercoaster match, Leitrim hit the front again in the 43rd minute when Laura O’Dowd put the ball in the back of the net after a fantastic initial save from Roscommon goalkeeper Helena Cummins.

Roscommon were back in business in the 47th minute when Amy O’Connor scored an opportunist goal that was originally disputed by Leitrim, who thought the play had been stopped for a free. However, the score stood.

Three minutes later, a sweeping Leitrim move saw substitute Leah Fox score another goal to edge the home team ahead again, 3-11 to 3-9. Roscommon’s Aisling Hanly then pointed to reduce the margin back to one.

With only a couple of minutes left on the clock Leitrim hit two in a row from Michelle Guckian to go three clear, and with Roscommon only managing an Aimee O’Connor free late on in response, it wasn’t enough in the end. It was a heartbreaking way for Roscommon to lose, but an excellent win for the home side.

Best for Roscommon were Ellen Irwin, Aimee O’Connor, Aisling Hanly and sub Lauran Shanagher.

After the match team Roscommon manager Ollie Lennon announced that he would be stepping down from his post after three years in the job and he thanked the players for their efforts on behalf of the county.

Roscommon: Helena Cummins; Aine McGrath, Ellen Irwin, Aisling McAuliffe; Rachel Fitzmaurice, Saoirse Wynne, Judy McDermott (0-1); Caoimhe Cregg, Lisa O’Rourke; Laura Fleming (0-2, 1 free), Kate Nolan, Ella Thompson; Aisling Hanly (2-2), Aimee O’Connor (1-5, 5 frees), Niamh Feeney. Subs: Lauren Shanagher (0-1) for O’Rourke (34), Aisling Shanagher for Cregg (34), Aoife Gavin for Nolan (50), Shauna Fleming for McAuliffe (56), Megan McKeon for Irwin (62).