Jamie Clarke rips up trees but Leitrim come through fright of their lives 1 year ago

Jamie Clarke rips up trees but Leitrim come through fright of their lives

What an occasion.

New York and Leitrim played out an absolute cracking game of football in their Connacht Championship first round clash on Sunday evening. With nothing between the sides after 70 minutes of action, extra-time was required to settle it where Leitrim would eventually prevail by the bare minimum.

The home side got off to a flying start in front of a giddy Gaelic Park crowd, racing into a 1-4 to 0-1 lead after just eleven minutes of play. As you would expect, their new arrival and star turn Jamie Clarke was central to everything good about their play.

As only he can, the deftest artist in gaelic football put it on a plate for Shane Hogan with a threaded through ball and Hogan made no mistake in sending the jam-packed crowd wild with an early green flag for Justin O'Halloran's team.

With a carnival atmosphere at play in a packed to the rafters setting, Clarke meant business and he rattled off two more points to set the expats and the New Yorkers off singing.

It took them a while to settle into the occasion, but when they did, Leitrim made their mark. As he has done so often in the past, it was Emlyn Mulligan who stood up tallest for Brendan Guckian's men. Not long after his return from a Cruciate Ligament injury, the elusive forward hit the away side for three points from play, and this would send them into a one point, 0-9 to 1-5 lead at half time.

Dean McGovern was also impressing from midfield for the O'Rourke County after being introduced from the bench early on and he gave the 1500 Leitrim spectators who made the journey stateside plenty to shout about.

The game was finely poised at this stage, however, with nothing between the two teams. This tit-for-tat pattern continued into the second half with Clarke again, probing, dancing and dazzling.

Glencar-Manorhamilton's Paddy Maguire was detailed with the man-marking duties on the Crossmaglen man and though he acquitted himself well, there's not much you can do when that peacock is in full voice.

So lively, dainty and nippy, it's hard to even lay a glove on him and when that shoulder drops and all of New York's attacks revolved around him.

The sides traded blows down the home straight, with Keith Beirne of Ireland's Fittest Family fame coming into his own and slotting some gorgeous points for the away side.

With the scores tied at 1-12 to 0-15 after 70, on they went to extra-time, to mirror what happened in 2003.

Both sides appeared weary in this first period, with the wides mounting, but Jamie Clarke was still buzzing around the place.

And just on the stroke of half-time, he delivered a moment of magic worthy of winning any game.

Just like in 2003, however, Leitrim would finish the stronger and with late, great points from Noel Plunkett, Shane Quinn and Darragh Rooney, they would emerge alive, but only just.

0-19 t0 1-15 was the final score.

What a game. What an occasion.