Celebrations had barely died down on the turf of Markievicz Park and already joint manager Barney Breen was turning his thoughts to next Sunday’s crucial opening Allianz League Division 4 clash against Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds (2.00 throw-in).
Having seen his side claim their fourth win in as many weeks and in the process lifting the county’s first piece of silverware in 19 years it is fair to say that Leitrim Barney was enjoying the moment, attention was very quickly turned to Limerick.
“We set our stall out at the beginning of the year to win the FBD and that’s come to fruition today,” said the joint manager, “The reason for wanting to have a good crack at it was that we have two tough openers in the National League, away to Limerick and home to Clare.
“We felt that a good run in the FBD League we could gain a bit of momentum to get confidence levels up and that would put us in a great position to get two points down in Limerick. It is going to be very, very hard, we understand that but after winning today it gives us a new level of confidence. We are going down with form.”
Reflecting on the game, Barney felt Leitrim dominated nd put much of the progress that has that has been made in the early part of the year down to the fitness of the team saying, “I felt today we never looked like losing. Our fitness levels are very high and with fitness levels you can do lots of good things, defend in numbers and break in numbers. In the second half we defended hard, they couldn’t really penetrate us and we broke and hit them on the counter-attack and that’s all we had to do.
“I felt that we were so dominant that the only team that could beat us today would be ourselves. Sometimes you may have a fear of that, but not today. I think we’ve turned a corner in the sense that the fear of winning is now no longer there, that we would have had in the past. I have often seen Leitrim teams in the past in a situation that they’d be two or three points up and they think they are not entitled to be here and all of a sudden they lose the game. They are a different bunch of lads that is there today.
Turning his attention to next Sunday in Limerick, Barney insisted he and all associated with the team know just how difficult a job awaits them but he feels the strength of the squad this year is something which compliments Leitrim’s intense style of play and the ability of those on the bench could be of real significance in the weeks and months to come.
“Make no bones about it, we are under no illusions about the job ahead of us in Limerick but we feel there is even more in that team. Because of our high work rate, to play that type of game requires high fitness levels and we feel now that we have a squad capable of winning games.
“As we said last night, the team that is named on a Sunday won’t win that game, it will possibly be the guys that come that win the game. Before maybe the team picked itself and you were bringing on subs because you had to but now you can actually have the luxury of bringing on subs to change the game and that makes the difference.”