After leading his side to their first ever qualifier win, Leitrim captain Paddy Maguire was full of praise for his team mates for the desire they showed to bounce back from the Mayo defeat and the hunger to secure Leitrim’s breakthrough win in the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
After the Mayo game that ended Leitrim’s interest in the Connacht Championship the Leitrim players could have been forgiven for believing that 2012 would be little more than another frustrating year but Paddy felt that defeat made them even more determined to break the county’s run of defeats in the qualifiers.
“We owed ourselves a performance, after Mayo we wanted to get back on track and got Wicklow. We took the home advantage as an opportunity to get back on track and end that qualifier curse and thank god we ended it today.
“Coming in to this game we believed and when you see them putting their shots wide, that means we’re putting them under pressure. Every man was stepping up right throughout the field, it worked today and we came out the right side of it,” said the Glencar/Manorhamilton man.
Paddy acknowledged that one of the keys to securing victory was ensuring Wicklow were held goalless and having studied the video of the league meeting between the sides earlier in the year, Paddy and his fellow defenders were well aware of what lay ahead of them.
“Wicklow, looking back on the videos, they seem to go for the long ball looking for (Seanie) Furlong and those boys inside but we dealt with it well. Cathal was talking to us at the back and we punched it away and cleared our lines and thank God Cathal made one great save. Goals win games and we stopped that today and I think that’s what improved it today.”
While the defenders played their part in keeping the Wicklow forwards frustrated for much of the game, at the other end of the pitch the Leitrim forwards worked tirelessly and when the chances came their way they were deadly accurate in front of goal. Stressing that it was a win earned by everybody on the Leitrim team Paddy noted, “We didn’t give the ball away in central places and once we got the ball up to the forwards,
“James, Emlyn and Ray, all the forwards were on form. That’s what you need when you’re going well at the back. You need everyone performing and on the day I couldn’t complain about any one of the lads, they gave it 100%.”
It may have only been a matter of minutes after he led Leitrim to victory but Paddy was certainly not resting on his laurels and was already contemplating what challenges lay in store for Leitrim
“It’s a quick turnaround, there’s nothing in it and God knows who you could get. If we win the next round it’s a step closer to the All-Ireland Final. Everyone will come in complacent against us but we will do the same thing - work Tuesday and Thursday, back to training.
“It’s a great position to be in, there were other surprises today with Antrim beating Galway and Limerick beating Longford. At the end of the day it comes down to commitment and belief.”