Goals will be very much on the mind of London’s Eoin O’Neill next Sunday when Ruislip hosts Leitrim, with the Galway native emphasising that the Exiles need to find the net if they are to record a second ever Connacht Championship victory.
With London having scored 17 points in a recent challenge against Wicklow, O’Neill is looking for Lonon goals next Sunday - “We have been creating chances, but we need to start putting them away. We need them badly but with the way things are going at training and the way we’re progressing, there are definitely a few goals in us.
“Our trainer Kevin Downes has us doing good drills, such as three-on-three situations inside the 20-metre line. Training is very intense and Kevin’s always shouting in our ears ‘goals goals goals’. They do win you games and that’s one thing we’ll be concentrating hard on.
“Nine or 10 points aren’t going to win you a game – you need to be looking at 15 or 16. I think that gradually, from the start of the league to the end, we have gotten better in that department.”
Despite a Qualifier victory over Fermanagh in 2011 and scaring the daylights out of Mayo in Ruislip, O’Neill believes Leitrim will still start as favourites - “Going on form, Leitrim have to be favourites. We only won one and drew one game in the National League, while Leitrim won four.
“But I don’t think it’s going to affect either team, whether they’re favourites or not. It certainly won’t matter to London. It’s all on the day, 70 minutes of football.
“It’ll go by quick – Connacht Championship matches at Ruislip are great days. All the lads are hopping at training; we just can’t wait. Everyone’s looking forward to it. Hopefully it’ll be another good day for London.”
Eoin is also hoping that Ruislip will provide an added boost to London - “I don’t think any team likes coming to Ruislip, but anyone who thinks Leitrim are going to be a light touch have another thing coming. We won’t be taking them for granted, not one bit.
“I think it’s going to take even more of a commitment to beat Leitrim than what we put in against Mayo last year. They’re going to be no pushovers; we have to be ready.”
The meeting of the two teams in the League, where a second-half rally from Leitrim earned them a five-point victory, won’t have any bearing - “We played well in the first half of that game but ran out of steam. I think we’ve now got our fitness levels up and our ball skills are a lot better.
As for the pressure, Eoin has a simple view - “If you can’t handle the pressure at inter-county level, you shouldn’t be playing. We have lads out the field who can deliver quality ball into the forwards. I don’t think pressure is going to be a problem.
“If we win we’ll be going to McHale Park for a Connacht semi-final. That would be absolutely massive. I’m not trying to take away from last year, which was brilliant, but we need to use it as a stepping stone. A win against Leitrim would be huge.”