Donal Casey of Leitrim in action against Sligo players, Eddie McGuinness, Evan Lyons and goalkeeper Daniel Lyons during this afternoon's Allianz Football League match at Avant Money Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada.
Donal Casey of Leitrim in action against Sligo players, Eddie McGuinness, Evan Lyons and goalkeeper Daniel Lyons during this afternoon's Allianz Football League match at Avant Money Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada. 

Allianz FL D4: Sligo and Wicklow on the up

Allianz Football League Division Four Results





An incredibly tight promotion race in Division Four of the Allianz League went right down to the wire this afternoon, as late points from Finnian Cawley and Sean Carrabine at Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon didn't just secure promotion for Sligo at the expense of their Connacht neighbours, they also meant that Wicklow - by virtue of their head-to-head win over Laois - sneaked into second spot at the expense of the O'Moore County.

No doubt Sligo manager Tony McEntee wasn't in the least bit concerned about doing his Crossmaglen club colleague, Wicklow boss Oisín McConville a favour in the latter stages of this thrilling tie, but instead he was just determined that his side, who led by eight points well into the second half, wouldn't be denied the promotion that they craved after winning five games in a row prior to this afternoon.

Leitrim had no need to look at results anywhere else – draw or defeat, and there was no chance (barring shock wins for both London and Waterford) that they would go up, while a win would mean they were certain of promotion.

They certainly started with intent, firing over the first three points of the game, but Sligo took over from there to lead by 0-9 to 0-5 at half-time.

Patrick O’Connor shot four first half points for the Yeats County, and they kicked on after half-time to move eight points clear, largely due to a very good goal from Pat Spillane.

However Leitrim saw a chink of light at the end of the tunnel when substitute Barry McNulty netted from a rebound after Jack Heslin’s goal effort was blocked after 54 minutes, and with goalkeeper Nevin O’Donnell keeping them alive thanks to two wonderful saves, they scrambled a goal through Aidan Flynn and then fired over points from Donal Wrynn and Tom Prior to lead by 2-11 to 1-13 with 68 minutes gone.

Enter Cawley and Carrabine, who delivered the scores that completely flipped the top of the table around, ushering in celebrations, not just among the Sligo supporters, but also in Dungarvan where Wicklow had beaten Waterford by 2-8 to 0-8.

Waterford, who secured their first competitive won in nearly two years last week, certainly kept the Garden County honest, with team captain Dermot Ryan continuing his exceptional form during this league campaign as he shot two first-half points from wing back.

They still trailed by 0-7 to 0-5 at half-time and had to play the first seven minutes of the second half with 14 men due to Michael Kiely’s black card, but they held firm and by the 59th minute, both sides had just added a single point to their tally.

When that long scoring drought ended, it was Wicklow’s Dean Healy who made the crucial intervention, blasting the ball into the left corner of the Waterford net. With five minutets to play, they were home and hosed thanks to a second goal from Cillian McDonald, so their focus could switch to events in the north west of the country.

It will be of scant consolation to Laois that they – along with Cork and Westmeath – are the top goalscorers in the league after the round robin stages, and yet they - along with Cork and Westmeath, and remarkably, every other team that scored 10 goals or more – failed to secure promotion.

Brian Byrne, Evan O’Carroll with a stunning solo effort, Eoin Lowry all found the net in the first half to make it 3-2 to 0-6 at half-time, while Mark Barry and substitutes Pádraig Kirwan and Brian Daly added their name to the goalscorers’ list after the break, with Liam Gallagher and Daniel Clarke raising consolation green flags for the home side at McGovern Park in Ruislip.

With nothing at stake between Wexford and Carlow, the two South East rivals played out their season-ending clash at Chadwicks Wexford Park yesterday, and while it was very tense and tight throughout, with Ben Brosnan (0-5f) and Darragh Foley (0-8, 0-7f) leading the scoring, two late points from Mark Rossiter and Eoghan Nolan’s goal deep into stoppage time gave the home side a flattering 1-16 to 0-13 win.