Leitrim travel more with hope than real belief

Connacht Senior Football Championship Roscommon 1-18 Leitrim 0-13 Hyde Park 18th May 2014 Referee Conor Lane (Cork)
Three years ago, Leitrim travelled to Pairc Esler in Newry for an All-Ireland Qualifier under something of a cloud and the same will happen next Sunday when the Green & Gold take on Down in the first round of the Qualifiers.

Three years ago, Leitrim travelled to Pairc Esler in Newry for an All-Ireland Qualifier under something of a cloud and the same will happen next Sunday when the Green & Gold take on Down in the first round of the Qualifiers.

Three years ago, the fall out from disciplinary issues saw an understrength Leitrim put on a defiant show before Down stamped their class on proceedings in the second half.

Fast forward to next Sunday and the picture is similar - the loss of Cathal McCrann and Paddy Maguire are two enormous blows in themselves, compounded by the absence of long serving veterans James Glancy and Danny Beck while Paul Brennan may yet be suspended.

The loss of Shane Quinn, Ronan Gallagher, Felim McHugh and John Mulligan leaves Sean Hagan with a much depleted squad to choose from while there has also been talk around the county of players missing training since the Roscommon game.

It all adds to a slightly dispiriting atmosphere surrounding the Senior team with most of supporter attention focussed on the Minor team’s semi-final on Saturday.

Down will be looking to reignite their championship ambitions after two hard and bitterly fought contests with Tyrone last month and a home game against Leitrim will be just what they wanted.

But Down will remember three years ago when they struggled against Leitrim and the Green & Gold will have to tap into that reserve of courage and defiance in Newry next Sunday.

The odds are very much against a Leitrim shock but if the Green & Gold can play with pride and belief, it may be enough.