Leitrim look to past for inspiration

They may head to Markievicz Park next Sunday as rank underdogs but Leitrim’s players will look to six years ago for inspiration of over-coming the odds when they take on Sligo in the first round of the Connacht Senior Football Championship (3.30 throw-in).

They may head to Markievicz Park next Sunday as rank underdogs but Leitrim’s players will look to six years ago for inspiration of over-coming the odds when they take on Sligo in the first round of the Connacht Senior Football Championship (3.30 throw-in).

They may head to Markievicz Park next Sunday as rank underdogs but Leitrim’s players will look to six years ago for inspiration of over-coming the odds when they take on Sligo in the first round of the Connacht Senior Football Championship (3.30 throw-in).

by John Connolly

In 2005, Sligo started the first round championship encounter as hot favourites but inspired by Declan Maxwell and a Johnny Goldrick goal, Dessie Dolan’s side produced a disciplined display to upset all the odds for a famous victory.

Sligo headed into that game as hot favourites and they face the same scenario next Sunday, the main difference being that the contest takes place in Markievicz rather than Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada.

That victory started an era where Dolan’s teams scared the Province’s big guns with some gutsy performances and current manager Mickey Moran will be hoping that a victory next Sunday would herald the start of another new era.

Leitrim are almost unrecognisable from that day six years ago with only Cathal McCrann, John McKeon, Barry McWeeney, James Glancy, Barry Prior and St. Mary’s Dermot Reynolds still on the panel of those who saw action that day.

Not all of them are guaranteed a role in next Sunday but the picture has changed somewhat as Sligo are now regarded as one of the Province’s elite, a team many believe should have won last year’s title as they feel Roscommon caught them cold on the day.

Whatever about Sligo learning from what they believe are past mistakes last year, Leitrim are hoping to replicate the spirit and endeavour they displayed six years ago, almost exactly to the day, to bring off an upset.

And upset it would be because, despite relegation from Division Two, Kevin Walsh’s men have been operating at a higher level, having lost by less than three points to the likes of Donegal, Derry, Laois & Kildare. And even the losses against Tyrone and Meath hid strong displays from Sligo that suggest that the upward trajectory of recent years has not exactly halted, just slowed slightly.

Sligo, however, do come go into Sunday’s game with injury worries as doubts surround the fitness of David Kelly, Johnny Davey, Alan Costello, Kenny Sweeney & Mark Brehony. How many of these key players will be ruled out is hard to judge as only Kelly has definitely been ruled out for Sunday.

To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.