Football

Division Four: Leitrim impress as Carlow, Laois and Wexford also claim maximum points

Laois goalkeeper Killian Roche who kicked 0-3 from play – and two frees – all while operating as a third midfielder.

Justin McNulty has come out in support of Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney
Back at the helm: Justin McNulty is in charge of Laois for a second time in his managerial career

Division Four of the Allianz Football League looks incredibly wide open this year as only Leitrim looked particularly impressive across the opening weekend, with Laois, Wexford and Carlow all picking up victories.

Longford’s trip to Laois on Saturday night looked like the most significant contest in terms of the promotion race and Justin McNulty’s O’Moore men edged a 1-12 to 2-7 victory, largely on the back of heroics from goalkeeper Killian Roche who kicked 0-3 from play – two frees – all while operating as a third midfielder.

Longford, who were playing into a strong wind, managed possession well and were arguably the happier side at half-time, even though they were trailing by 0-7 to 0-2.

When Darren Gallagher fired in a penalty in the 47th minute, they were certainly in good shape, but Laois replied with a Roche free and a goal from Damon Larkin. And despite a few scary moments in front of their own goal, they maintained a healthy lead until the very last attack of the game, from which Dylan Farrell raised the third and final green flag of the evening.

Carlow made a comparatively short trip west to FBD Semple Stadium at the same time, where Aaron Amond’s late goal wrapped up a 3-10 to 1-14 away win.

Paddy Creedon’s goal undid good early work from the Leinster county, but Conor Crowley and Darragh Foley found the net to move them 2-7 to 1-6 in front at the interval. They held on firmly despite falling level to a string of Seán O’Connor frees after losing Colm Hulton to a second yellow card in the third quarter.

Leitrim made short work of an anaemic challenge from Waterford in Dungarvan, controlling matters at both ends of the field and proving full value for the 2-17 to 1-5final score.

Shane Quinn and Darragh Rooney kicked the first three points between them.

An 0-7 to 0-2 lead at half-time illustrated how the defence, with Mark Diffley and Donal Casey controlling the spine, were in complete control.

Rooney shot the first four points of the second half to make sure Waterford didn’t gather any early momentum, and while Dermot Ryan came forward to register a trademark score for the Déise, Evan Sweeney’s goal in the 50th minute ensured Leitrim would travel home happy.

After recording a memorable victory over Mayo in the FBD league, hopes were high around the London camp in advance of their Allianz League opener against Wexford at McGovern Park in Ruislip. When Shay Rafter set up Daniel Clarke for a goal after 11 minutes, Michael Maher’s side were bouncing.

Wexford’s control of midfield, where Liam Coleman and Niall Hughes were in excellent form, allowed the visiting Leinster county to edge in front by half-time, 0-9 to 1-5.

Kevin O’Grady knocked over some crucial scores in the third quarter to steady the visitors after they lost Darragh Lyons to a black card.

They effectively clinched their victory when Eoghan Nolan found the net.