Deep disappointment might have been etched on every Leitrim face after last Saturday’s replay loss but manager Niall Kilcrann was predicting that 2012 would still be a bright for Leitrim Ladies, claiming “This year will definitely be bright for this team, there is no doubt about it.”
Asked what positives could be drawn from the disappointing loss, Niall said “Absolutely, positives can be taken from today, the positives as well is the underage work that is being done in Leitrim and right throughout the grades. You see the U-14s pulling off a massive win against Galway last week, it doesn’t happen every day so the future is bright.
“They can learn from today. I think if you don’t learn from your defeats, you’re not going anywhere but this team will definitely learn from this defeat today. It will hurt them but at the end of the day, they put in a massive League campaign and I for one am 100% proud of them girls and I would go anywhere with them, they are a tremendous group of girls and they will get their just rewards some day.”
His point was echoed by Westmeath manager Alan Mangan who predicted that Leitrim could make an impact in the Intermediate Championship – “They are a serious outfit and they will serious contenders for the Intermediate championship and I hope that they got on and give it socks.
“They’ve a great management set-up, they’re all in it for the girls and the girls only, same as us. It could have gone either way this evening, they had a couple of goal chances in the first half and Christine brought off two great saves.
“If they had got even one of those, they could have pushed on and who knows. We’ll take any victory that comes our way and hopefully we can push on from there.”
The Westmeath boss acknowledged that his side should have won far more comfortably and need to work on their accuracy - “We tried our best to work on them this week in training but obviously it didn’t work, we kicked more today than we did last week. But it just goes to show the amount of work and amount of possession the girls put in to get into these positions.
“Maybe, out of the 18 wides, we might have had definitely ten that should have gone over, maybe eight were a bit sceptical about whether we should have shot or not. It is something we really have to work on but we have eight or nine weeks to work on it.
“We will work on our fitness as well and maybe up the work-rate but listen I can’t ask them for any more than they’ve given me today and Martin would be the same. I can’t commend them enough, it is very frustrating at times but it would be worse if we weren’t getting into positions and we didn’t kick any wides.
“It was very hard to come out at halftime a point down after dominating proceedings in the first half but as I’ve said before, it is great to get into those positions but we really have to work on our composure in terms of shooting. These girls are willing to work at that.”
Westmeath’s experience with replays may have been a factor after they defeated Cavan last year but Niall Kilcrann felt his team had plenty of experience themselves – “I suppose a lot of people would say that Westmeath are a more experienced team going into the replay but there a lot of players on that Leitrim team who are experienced too.
“Westmeath kicked a lot of wides in the game but I think they found their shooting boots at the most important time of the game, in the last six or seven minutes but we weren’t that far away from them, it just didn’t go our way on the day.
“We went in a point ahead at halftime, we came back into the game, a good second half but they just pulled away in the last few kicks of the game and they found their shooting boots at the end and they are worthy winners.”
Niall agreed that Westmeath had upped their game from the drawn game but felt that his charges had also done the same – “I think we upped their game but they definitely upped their game. In the first half, they put a lot of pressure on us and we put a lot of pressure on them, made them shoot and they didn’t get the scores.
“They did put us under pressure but I think we rose to that pressure and deservedly so went in a point ahead at halftime. The game boiled down to the second half, it was always going to boil down to the second half, it was always going to be close. Unfortunately for us, just not close enough.”
Leitrim will have to pick themselves up for the Connacht and Intermediate Championship – “We haven’t time to sit down and dwell on this, the girls will be back in training and we have a Connacht Championship to win against Sligo on June 24, and that kicks right into our All-Ireland championship so we haven’t time to dwell on this.”
Niall was unhappy that only Westmeath would be promoted to Division 2 for 20123 – “Unfortunately, there are only losers here today because only one team will go into Division 2, Westmeath are going to go up and we should be up as well because we’re well able to contest with them.”