We haven’t come up against Leitrim in the championship since back in 2006 and so the Ridge County is the only one left in Connacht for which I haven’t listed our complete head-to-head championship record. Time to head for the results archive, then, and set this to rights. (The image I’ve used here, by the way, is the cover of the match programme I got at the 1985 Connacht semi-final – double-click on it to see a high resolution version of it).
The fact that it’s been six years since we’ve faced Leitrim in Connacht is odd but I guess it’s down to the simple issue that we haven’t pulled them from the hat in the first round. We keep meeting the others in Connacht finals (and semi-finals) but, more often than not, Leitrim don’t make it that far so, unless we get paired at the outset, chances are we’re not going to meet at all. 1994 is, of course, an obvious exception here but then again that was a truly exceptional year for the Ridge County.
In any event, six years doesn’t come close to the longest gap we’ve had between meetings down the years. Our path never crossed at all until 1924 (we were supposed to play them in 1906 but they didn’t show up and we were awarded a walkover) and then there was a full ten-year gap between 1935 and 1945 without a meeting between us. The period when we got up close and personal with them to the greatest extent was during the Seventies and Eighties, with five championship clashes between us in each of these decades. We’ve only come across them three times since then.
Our most recent tussle was, of course, that Connacht semi-final of 2006 where we scraped out a one-point win over them up in Carrick-on-Shannon. We looked to be cruising to an easy victory that day (notwithstanding our nutty ‘nut’ formation) until Pat Harte’s sending-off early in the second half changed the entire shape of the contest and we were damn lucky to emerge from Carrick with the spoils. Players involved that day who are still on the panel include Keith Higgins, Ronan McGarrity, Pat Harte, Alan Dillon, Andy Moran, Peadar Gardiner and Barry Moran.
The last time we played them at McHale Park was back in 1997, where we had seven points to spare over them in what was a goalless semi-final contest. It’s probably of no relevance at all to observe that Sligo were our Connacht final opponents a bit later that year.
The 1994 Connacht final between us will obviously rank in the minds of Leitrim people as our most memorable joust and a famous day it was for them too as they claimed only their second ever Connacht title. It was, for sure, a well-deserved one because as well as accounting for us in the final, they also had to beat Roscommon and Galway on the way.
In this week’s Mayo News Rob Murphy has an interesting piece with John O’Mahony and Liam McHale who were, of course, on opposite sides that day in Hyde Park. For my money, though, the emotions surrounding Leitrim’s 1994 run are best captured by Seamus O’Rourke’s evocative tale of the county’s appearance at Croke Park later that summer.
The overall record is, as you’d expect, one that’s heavily weighted in our favour. We’ve met 27 times in all and we’ve won 21 of those (not including that 1905 walkover), drawn three and lost three. We’ve never been beaten by them on home soil in the championship (though Galway had the same boast about Sligo until a few weeks ago and look what happened there) but from what I can see we’ve only entertained them at McHale Park on three previous occasions – in 1997, 1984 and 1959. We’ve had plenty of home matches but we’ve tended to take them to more scenic spots, such as Charlestown, Crossmolina and Ballina. We’ve also had a number of meetings on neutral territory, both in Roscommon and Sligo with that 1967 decider the only time we faced them at a Galway venue.
The complete list of championship results between us is as follows:
2006 Semi-Final Leitrim 1-9 Mayo 1-10 (Carrick-on-Shannon, 25/6/2006)
1997 Semi-Final Mayo 0-18 Leitrim 0-11 (McHale Park, 29/6/1997)
1994 Final Leitrim 0-12 Mayo 2-4 (Hyde Park, 24/7/1994)
1988 First Round Mayo 1-13 Leitrim 0-4 (Charlestown, 19/6/1988)
1985 Semi-Final Leitrim 0-5 Mayo 2-11 (Carrick-on-Shannon, 23/6/1985)
1984 Semi-Final Mayo 3-16 Leitrim 1-8 (McHale Park, 24/6/1984)
1982 Semi-Final Leitrim 1-7 Mayo 2-7 (Carrick-on-Shannon, 13/6/1982)
1980 Semi-Final Mayo 1-17 Leitrim 1-8 (Crossmolina, 22/6/1980)
1979 Semi-Final Leitrim 1-10 Mayo 3-12 (Carrick-on-Shannon, 17/6/1979)
1978 First Round Mayo 2-18 Leitrim 1-8 (Ballina, 28/5/1978)
1976 First Round (replay) Leitrim 2-8 Mayo 0-10 (Carrick-on-Shannon, 25/6/2006)
1976 First Round Mayo 0-11 Leitrim 0-11 (Charlestown, 23/5/1976)
1973 Semi-Final Leitrim 0-3 Mayo 7-6 (Carrick-on-Shannon, 17/6/1973)
1969 Semi-Final Leitrim 1-8 Mayo 6-13 (Carrick-on-Shannon, 22/6/1969)
1967 Final Mayo 4-15 Leitrim 0-7 (Tuam Stadium, 16/7/1967)
1959 Semi-Final (replay) Leitrim 2-7 Mayo 2-5 (Roscommon, 12/7/1959)
1959 Semi-Final Mayo 2-4 Leitrim 0-10 (McHale Park, 28/6/1959)
1955 Semi-Final Mayo 3-11 Leitrim 0-9 (Markievicz Park, 26/6/1955)
1949 Final Mayo 4-6 Leitrim 0-3 (Roscommon, 10/7/1949)
1948 First Round Mayo 4-9 Leitrim 1-2 (Sligo, 13/6/1948)
1945 First Round Mayo 3-12 Leitrim 0-6 (Castlerea, 10/6/1945)
1935 Semi-Final Mayo 9-3 Leitrim 3-3 (Sligo, 26/5/1935)
1933 Semi-Final Mayo 5-12 Leitrim 1-0 (Tubbercurry, 11/6/1933)
1930 Semi-Final Mayo 3-4 Leitrim 1-1 (Sligo, 18/5/1930)
1926 Semi-Final Mayo 2-3 Leitrim 0-2 (Showgrounds, Sligo, 13/6/1926)
1924 Semi-Final (replay) Mayo 3-1 Leitrim 1-2 (Sligo, 31/8/1924)
1924 Semi-Final Mayo 0-2 Leitrim 0-2 (Ballaghaderreen, 22/6/1924)
1905 First Round Mayo walkover v Leitrim (Claremorris, 18/4/1906)