Mal Guckian gets his message across to his players after the semi-final. Photo by Willie Donnellan
There is a fine margin between success and failure and Leitrim Gaels are refusing to take anything for granted ahead of next Sunday’s Fox Monumentals Intermediate Championship Final against Aughnasheelin.
That’s the thoughts of Leitrim Gaels manager Mal Guckian who won’t read too much into his team’s impressive victories over pre-competition favourites Fenagh St. Caillin’s and Drumkeerin.
“It is all fine margins, you know,” Mal told the Observer, “Maybe with the new structure and the whole lot, it is hard for teams to adapt to it at the beginning, they might have peaked too quickly and it is drawn out a couple of weeks more than normal.”
Looking back on the Gaels’ outings in the championship, Mal points to the defeat against Kiltubrid as a key turning point - “Kiltubrid that day were the hungrier team, they had everything to play for, they had to win it. It was probably one of the best things that happened to us, we had to set new goals and lucky enough we are where we are today.”
Defeating Fenagh after a replay has certainly been a boost to Leitrim Gaels’ confidence - “The first day, no two ways about it, Fenagh were favourites going into the game. Division One team, great talent coming through, they have Donal Wrynn, the O’Rourkes, they have a great balanced team throughout.
“We knew we had to play out of our skins, we that we could never give up in any area of the field. And I think the character that we showed in the last few minutes to come back, fenagh had a stranglehold on us, but it got it’s just reward.
“And in the replay, we got our tactics right and we were on the front foot. Did we get Fenagh on an off-day? It is very hard to know.”
The semi-final against Drumkeerin saw Leitrim Gaels produce an impressive performance but it was looking forward rather than back that inspired Guckian’s team, Mal saying that there was no talk of revenge for Drumkeerin knocking Leitrim Gaels out in last year’s quarter-finals.
“There was no talk about it. We had no talk in the dressing room about it, we had no talk on the pitch about it, we just maintained our focus on a very good Drumkeerin side as well, who are playing Division One football as well and I do think Division One football stands to any team.
“There was very little talk about last year, it was more the paper and maybe the supporters as well.”
SEE WWW.LEITRIMOBSERVER.IE FOR MORE STORIES AND INTERVIEWS AHEAD OF NEXT SUNDAY'S LEITRIM SENIOR & INTERMEDIATE CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS.