Despite suffering a mauling at the hands of Galway in the Connacht Minor League, manager Damien Eames believes that his Leitrim charges are more than capable of shocking the Tribesmen next Saturday evening in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada in the Connacht Minor Championship Semi-Final.
By David Goulden
Leitrim’s Minor footballers will look to put their poor league campaign behind them when they take on Galway in Carrick next Saturday and now face a Galway team who defeated Sligo by eight points last Saturday evening in Markievicz Park, 2-11 to 1-6.
Eames’ side finished bottom of the Connacht Minor League this year, suffering four defeats with their only win being a three point win over Sligo in Carrick-on-Shannon but the Leitrim manger Eames, in his second year guiding the Minors, knows Saturday’s test will be a tough one, but warns supporters not to underestimate his sides chances.
“To be fair, the championship is a different game to the league,” Damien told the Leitrim Observer, “A player can have that extra burst of pace or that little bit more adrenaline during a championship match. We’ve applied ourselves well in training and we know all about this Galway side.”
Commenting on the preparation for Saturday’s game, Eames says he has his team ready to spring a surprise on Galway - “Training is gong well and we are preparing ourselves suitably for what will be a tough tie. The players have applied themselves well in training and we have a plan or two up our sleeves.”
Eames has watched Galway in recent weeks and although he acknowledges their strengths, he will be looking to exploit their weaknesses. “I watched Galway play Sligo last weekend. They have a strong spine and are very mobile and quick. We need to counter-act their game and play to our strengths, and in championship football you never know what’s going to happen.”
Leitrim only managed one win in the Connacht Minor League this year, but this was largely down to other commitments off the field according to the manager - “We had a disappointing league campaign, but alot of the lads were doing exams. That certainly hampered alot of the work, but there’s nothing you can do about theses things.”
And Eames has called on the Leitrim public to turn up to Pairc Sean MacDiarmada in their numbers on Saturday. He points to the recent minor game between Tipperary and Kerry, where a large home support helped the home side over the line.
“We have a young squad and what they need is support. I would hope to see a large home crowd in Carrick-on-Shannon at the weekend and I hope they get behind the lads from the start. The game is on our home turf so we need to make that count.” Eames also went on to reiterate this point saying: “Our home fans can give us that extra lift we may need to get across the line.”
Galway go into the semi-final with a huge advantage of a competitive game under their belts, having defeated Sligo by eight points last Saturday in Markeivicz Park. The game was evenly matched at four points each at half time, but Galway managed to pull away from their opponents through goals from Ian Burke and Sean Moran.
Galway are expected to line up similarly to last Saturday’s win over Sligo and will look to Sean Moran and fellow midfielder Shane Geoghan to unlock the Leitrim defence. Moran scored 1-2 when the sides met in April in the Connacht Minor League, with Galway coming out on top with a convincing 5-3 to 0-10 win.
Galway have quite a deal of power in attack with the physically imposing Shane Maughan expected to feature for The Tribesmen alongside Shane Walsh who scored six points in Sligo at the weekend.
In defence, Galway look organised and fluent, quick to pressurise the Leitrim ball carrier, a tactic which paid rich dividends in the League game as the hand-passing game of the Green & Gold was repeatedly broken up before the Tribesmen used quick accurate low passing to their deadly forwards who could have scored twice as many goals.
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.