In inter-county football terms he may still be learning his trade, but Ballinamore’s Wayne McKeon has already become an established and crucial part of the Leitrim team. Having been awarded the man of the match award for his role in Leitrim’s memorable win over Sligo in Markievicz Park, Wayne is hoping to guide Leitrim to greater things.
Equally adept at breaking up opposition attacks, creating scoring opportunities for team mates or slotting the ball between the uprights himself, Wayne is eagerly anticipating the clash with London but he is under no illusions as to what Leitrim can expect on Sunday afternoon.
“We’re well aware that London are up for it, but we’re trying to do everything right and hopefully on the 3rd we come out with a win,” Wayne said frankly before looking back on the a year that has seen the introduction of a new managerial team and numerous plays to the senior set-up.
After the National League campaign the mood outside the camp was one of frustration but Wayne insisted the players have bounced back strongly to the disappointing finish and the heavy defeat suffered at the hands of Fermanagh
“Things were going well in the league but we lost a couple of games that we should have won, it slipped away from us in the end. The Fermanagh game was a big downer but then we played Cavan in a challenge and things really went for us again. We scored 2-18 in a challenge against Cavan and Emlyn came out to centre-forward which was a big help for us, he’s an outlet for us all the time. It’s hard to lift it but we came together and had our meetings and it’s all good.”
Returning his attention to the trip to Ruislip Wayne knows it won’t be easy against London and was initially downplaying the occasion.
“We’re feeling good and training is going well but we know we’re in for a tight battle when we go to Ruislip. They’ve a big hardy team, we’re not expecting much but hopefully try our best and hopefully come out of it but it’s going to be a tough battle until the end.”
One common theme amongst the Leitrim players when speaking to the press this year is that there was no talk about a Connacht semi-final clash with Mayo, although when pushed on the matter Wayne did concede that were Leitrim to emerge victorious in London, they would have no fears travelling to Castlebar.
“It’s one game at a time, everything is about London, London, London,” he insisted. “We’re not thinking that far ahead, London are the team to beat at the minute and it’s not going to be easy. There’s no point thinking about Mayo until we have the job done over in Ruislip.
“We’re thinking if we do play well and come out with a win then you know you can’t be going over to Castlebar thinking that you’re going to get an absolute beating. We would be going over there with the highest of confidence and we know well we can take them. Nobody gave us a chance last year against Sligo and look what happen and we’ll go over with the fullest of confidence.”
Having performed heroics as the underdogs in markievicz Park last year, Wayne knows better than most just how dangerous underdogs can be and is looking to last year’s win over Sligo as an inspiration as Leitrim begin their championship campaign.
“We’re probably favourites going over to Ruislip but that doesn’t really mean much. It’s going to be a tough game, last year in Sligo nobody gave us a chance and we went on to face Roscommon. I know that day totally backfired but if we get over to Mayo hopefully we can change that this year.”
Once again referring to last year, Wayne added, “It’s the same as last year, we have a load of new boys that are hopefully going to do the same job as they did last year against Sligo. Every one us know that we have new lads coming in that are going to do a great job, we all have faith in each other and we’re hoping things will come right and we’ll do well.”