Leitrim joint manager, Barney Breen, was a relieved man as he exited the dressing room on Sunday.
Breen had watched his side recover from a poor start in each half to run out convincing winners in the end - “There was a big euphoria after winning the FBD league and I suppose the reality is that there is a fine line between winning and losing.
“We lost to Limerick but we felt we didn’t become a bad team overnight. Against Clare, we had two very serious injuries which stopped the game for nine minutes and halted our momentum. We weren’t able to cope with that. We re-focussed and got our heads right. Today we put in a performance which we knew was in us.”
The visitors were by far the better side and apart from those moments of dominance by the home-side there were only going to be one result. “We had lots of chances. We should have won by more but the thing we are delighted about is that we didn’t concede a goal and we created four great chances. Our keeper brought off massive saves at the other end. It was a very open game and it is a long time since we scored 1-16,” Breen said.
Now his side are right back in the mix - “That was always the way. Any team manager who was interviewed at the start of the year would have felt that you could lose two games and still be in the promotion hunt. We are back in the race but we have no room to manoeuver now. Maybe that is when we perform best when our backs are to the wall.
“We love to make it harder for ourselves but this will mean nothing today if we can’t get another win next week.”
Emlyn Mulligan was again the main score-getter but Breen says Leitrim are not a one man team. “Emlyn is a great player but he is only as good as the team around him. He knows that as well. We talk about the fine lines but we did the small things right today. Another day, we could do three or four things wrong and it all adds up.”
Carlow manager Anthony Rainbow was left to rue that early goal which was the difference between the sides until Leitrim pulled away in the final quarter - “When they got the goal we found it hard to claw that back. We got a good start and again in the second half but Leitrim put over the scores when we closed and that gap was hard for us.
“Leitrim seemed fitter and sharper than us. Maybe we overloaded the lads in the last two weeks in training,” he speculated.
The former Kildare footballer, who is in his first year as Carlow manager, was disappointed to lose at home but is not despondent.
“We are looking forward to Limerick. It is not a total loss. It is only one defeat and it is about getting the boys lifted on Tuesday and getting them ready for Sunday.”