Not the worst draw, maybe not the best was the reaction of supporters last Monday when the Green & Gold were drawn at home next Saturday (7.00 throw-in) to face Laois in Leitrim’s first ever outing in round four of the All-Ireland Football Championship Qualifiers.
Getting a home draw and avoiding the likes of Kerry, Tyrone and Kildare are major pluses for a Leitrim team basking in the glory of last Saturday’s victory over Wicklow but Leitrim will again start as underdogs for a game that is sure to draw a much larger crowd to Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada.
Brian Breen rightly praised the vocal Leitrim support against Wicklow but with the visitors probably just shading the numbers game last Saturday, Leitrim will be hoping for a much bigger turnout of Green & Gold supporters to boost the chances of another famous victory.
Laois might have been relegated from Division One this year but they still recorded victories over both Armagh and Donegal away and playing in the top flight means that the midlanders are playing at a far higher standard than what Leitrim face in Division Four.
First half goals from Colm Kelly and Brendan Quigley proved decisive in Laois’s win over Monaghan last Saturday in Portlaoise, their 2-12 to 0-12 victory more comfortable than it sounds. Padraig Clancy remains a leading figure but Leitrim will also have to watch the likes of M.J. Tierney, Ross Munnelly and Brendan Quigley as the midlanders enjoy a big physical spine to their team.
Leitrim will be concerned that Laois will have an advantage in the middle of the park where Quigley & Clancy should give the visitors a platform while Laois like to move the ball long and quickly to a dangerous full-forward line.
Leitrim will look to replicate the heroics of last Saturday, particularly the form of the outstanding James Glancy and Emlyn Mulligan as well as an extraordinarily effective shooting display with only four wides over the hour. Leitrim’s forwards are likely to be under quite a good deal more pressure so making the most of every chance is vital.
The sheer work-rate and application in defence was outstanding last Saturday but concern has to be expressed at the fact that Wicklow created so many scoring chances, including three goals opportunities - Laois are not likely to be so profilgate.
As Brian Breen said, Leitrim are now in bonus territory and Laois traditionally don’t like playing in Carrick-on-Shannon. The visitors are rightly heavy favourites but with the sort of spirit Leitrim showed against Wicklow, maybe we might be celebrating another win next Saturday.