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Tailteann Cup: Sligo advance following dramatic encounter

David Bruen, Leitrim, and Paul Kilcoyne, Sligo, in Tailteann Cup action.

David Bruen, Leitrim, and Paul Kilcoyne, Sligo, in Tailteann Cup action.

Tailteann Cup Quarter-Final

Sligo 1-19 Leitrim 2-16

After extra-time; Sligo won 4-3 on penalties

By Liam Maloney at Avant Money Páirc Seán MacDiarmada

Sligo are through to the Tailteann Cup semi-final – and a game in Croke Park – following their 4-3 penalty shoot-out defeat of Leitrim in a thriller at Avant Money Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada.

The winners’ goalkeeper Aidan Devaney saved two Leitrim spot-kicks, denying Ryan O’Rourke and Emlyn Mulligan, with Keith Beirne, Darragh Rooney and Shane Quinn finding the net.

Sligo were flawless from penalties as Nathan Rooney, Alan Reilly, Donal Conlon and Brian Egan netted their efforts.

The defeat was tough for Leitrim, who had levelled matters at the end of normal time and extra-time – both equalisers coming from star forward Keith Beirne.

Sligo, without attacking talisman Niall Murphy, did enough – just – but, once again, this missed multiple chances and kicked 18 wides here.

These Connacht neighbours both won in the competition’s opening round the previous weekend – but it is how they did so that differed greatly.

Andy Moran’s Leitrim had five points to spare at home against Antrim, winning relatively comfortably, while Sligo, who also had home advantage for their Tailteann Cup debut, were brought to extra-time by a dogged London – Tony McEntee’s men relieved to eventually get over the line by two points.

Although the counties met in this year’s Allianz Football League, a Division Four contest that Sligo won at Markievicz Park, their previous championship meeting came six years ago when they clashed in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifiers, a game that went Sligo’s way by 11 points.

Leitrim, cheered on by a sizeable crowd, made a wonderful start and were five points up, 1-2 to 0-0, by the seventh minute.

Keith Beirne, who opened Leitrim’s account with a lovely point, then netted following a scramble.

Leitrim’s goal started with an underhit Sligo kick-out and then a goal attempt from Keith Beirne that was blocked but not cleared.

Evan Sweeney’s excellent point increased Leitrim’s lead.

Sligo were not only shocked – they were starting to hit wides as in their contest with London.

Sean Carrabine’s 12th minute point – a shot that fizzed over – flicked a switch for Sligo, who added seven points without reply to lead by three, 0-8 to 1-2, by the 33rd minute.

Sligo’s recovery relied on them winning more possession at midfield, where Pat Spillane and Sean Carrabine were industrious, while Patrick O’Connor and Alan Reilly emerged as Sligo’s main attacking threats.

Leitrim still had their star man, Keith Beirne, on form and his big point after 34 minutes ended a scoreless spell of 27 minutes.

While Leitrim were just two points down at half-time, 0-9 to 1-4, the momentum appeared to be with Sligo, who shot seven first-half wides.

Sligo increased their advantage but also missed a goal chance when Sean Carrabine slipped a shot wide.

Leitrim levelled matters nine minutes into the second period when Jordan Reynolds scored a stylish goal.

Sligo kept in touch and a fine goal from substitute Mark Walsh plus points by Sean Carrabine and Darragh Cummins put Sligo four points up, 1-15 to 2-8, with five minutes of normal time left.

But Leitrim remained resilient and three unanswered points in the five minutes of time added on by referee Maurice Deegan brought them level.

Keith Beirne hit a massive point for the equalising score, which made it 2-13 to 1-16.

Sligo wasted chances to wrap up a result and finished with 16 wides in normal time.

Extra-time couldn’t separate the teams, who scored three points each.

It was level after the first period of extra-time, 1-17 for Sligo to Leitrim’s 2-14.

Sligo moved a point clear, 1-19 to 2-15, with Alan Reilly kicking a score from substitute Nathan Rooney’s pass, but Leitrim had another score in them and it was that man again, Keith Beirne, who finished with aplomb.

Leitrim had a goal disallowed 20 seconds into the first period of extra-time, while Sligo brought their wides count up to 18.

Penalties finally brought an answer, with Aidan Devaney proving Sligo’s hero.

Scorers for Sligo: Alan Reilly 0-6, Patrick O’Connor 0-6 (2f, 1 ‘mark’), Sean Carrabine 0-4 (1f), Mark Walsh 1-0, Darragh Cummins 0-1, Peter Laffey 0-1, Nathan Rooney 0-1 (1f)

Scorers for Leitrim: Keith Beirne 1-8 (1 ‘mark’), Jordan Reynolds 1-1, Evan Sweeney 0-2, Riordan O’Riordan 0-1, Emlyn Mulligan 0-1, Dean McGovern 0-1, Ryan O’Rourke 0-1, Mark Plunkett 0-1

Sligo: Aidan Devaney; Nathan Mullen, Evan Lyons, Paul McNamara; Luke Towey, Darragh Cummins, Paul Kilcoyne; Peter Laffey, Sean Carrabine; Keelan Cawley, Patrick O’Connor, Mikey Gordon; Alan Reilly, Pat Hughes, Pat Spillane.

Subs: Donal Conlon for Hughes 56, Mark Walsh for Towey 58, Conan Marren for Spillane 63, Nathan Rooney for Carrabine 67, Pat Spillane for Laffey 80, Brian Egan for O’Connor 81.

Leitrim: Brendan Flynn, Paddy Maguire, Mark Diffley, Conor Reynolds; Jack Heslin, David Bruen, James Rooney; Pearce Dolan, Donal Wrynn; Cillian McGloin, Keith Beirne, Shane Moran; Domhnaill Flynn, Evan Sweeney, Riordan O’Rourke.

Subs: Jordan Reynolds for McGloin 33, Ryan O’Rourke for Reynolds 43, Mark Plunkett for Heslin 51, Darragh Rooney for Sweeney 58, Dean McGovern for Flynn 66, Emlyn Mulligan for Riordan O’Rourke 71, Conor Farrell for Diffley 71, Shane Quinn for James Rooney 74, Tom Prior for Moran 80.

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).