Any time a Leitrim player talks about the county team these days, the emphasis is very much on building a brighter future. And it’s a theme that captain Sean McWeeney is keen to embrace.
Yet the Aughnasheelin man also stresses that next Sunday’s Connacht Championship clash with Galway is very much to the fore - “We’re building a new system in Leitrim and getting us back from where we were, bringing it on and hopefully leading the way into the future.
“Galway are a big physical team, they have a game under their belt, we haven’t played a competitive game together in a while which is an advantage to them. They like to play free-flowing football, there are a couple of nippy forwards, but that is why we’re here, we love the challenge.
“We have to pin them back in, make it a tight game, get the crowd on their backs, get the supporters really backing us up because that is what we’ve had on the panel this year. Every man has been there for each other and if we can get that coming from the crowd as well, that is what is really all about.”
For Sean, leading the Leitrim team out in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada is a huge honour - “It is always a big one bringing any team to Carrick, there is always that first round of the championship feeling.
“The start of the year, Shane made me captain, it was the greatest honour I’ve ever had, I’m absolutely delighted to be involved, just with the team, working with some of the lads that are there, the amount of work they do behind the scenes, management and the players, is unbelieveable.”
Sean accepts that Leitrim will always start as underdogs against Galway but relishes the challenge - “You take it with a pinch of salt, for years going back into college, that was always what you were dealt with, you were not always disregarded but you were always behind.
“You deal with that and it is a good place to be because you are always coming in as an underdog, you can come in under the radar and on any given day, God knows what can happens because when you work hard, anything can happen.”
The Leitrim captain is confident that Shane Ward’s young team have the talent to cause a shock - “I do think we have improved over the year and we have a couple of big men who can play ball and it has been awhile since Leitrim have had that.
“Not only that but people who really, really want to work hard, Shane Moran has really come back into it, Donal Wrynn, strong physical men who can play ball and we need to use that to our advantage.
“The smaller tighter lads like Matthew Murphy who can do any job and then the experience of the lads, the Dannys, the Garys, Darren Sweeney, they are always about. The strengths of Leitrim are our work-rate and we’re building into a game-plan, we do like to be in control of the game.”
And it is by concentrating on their own performance that will lead to progress according to Sean - “We need to be demanding our own standards and that is what we’ve started to do, we need to be playing the ball to the wing, moving it on and getting it into our goal-scoring areas and keeping it tight at the back and nullifying Galway as much as we can.”