If there was no hiding place on the field for Leitrim last Sunday, then captain Emlyn Mulligan certainly wasn’t hiding off it with a heart-felt and hard hitting reaction to the loss in Newry.
The Leitrim captain questioned the hunger of players in the county to represent their county and stressed that the Green & Gold needs all of their players if the county is to be competitive.
The Leitrim captain was typical forthright when he discussed Sunday’s defeat - “What started out as a promising year turned into a bit of a joke to be honest, with everything that went on and different things but we have to learn from it because we’re not going to make any progression down the line if we don’t.
“We have to act like a professional team like every other county because at the moment, I don’t know if there is that hunger for boys to play with Leitrim, people are nearly happier to put more into their clubs than their county .
“Unless that changes and boys want to play for Leitrim, we’re not going to win anything or be competitive. We have the boys out there (in Pairc Esler), they’re not the problem, it is other boys we need to get on board and give the commitment.”
Lack of commitment is obviously a bug-bear but Emlyn is adamant that Leitrim cannot do without their best players as the absence of Cathal McCrann, Paddy Maguire, Wayne McKeon, Paul Brennan, James Glancy & Conor Beirne was sorely felt.
“No player is bigger than the county but at the end of the day, we need our best 15 on the team every day, we need our best 25 on the panel. The fellows you named there, we would struggle without one of them there today.
“To be honest with you when the draw was made, people were saying Down is tough but even if we got a Division 4 team, we’d have been under pressure even without our six players.”
And Emlyn believes Leitrim will only prosper when the big picture is looked at, from players, management, clubs and county board - “I think we’re all in it together and between myself and everyone involved, we have to look at ourselves.
“There are different issues that have to be dealt with inside and it is just not acceptable what is going on at times. Sean is doing his best but there is only so much he can do, we don’t have the position that we can get rid of players and bring in players because that is just not the way we are.
“I just can’t understand why fellows don’t want to play, the question at the end of the day is why some of the best players don’t want to play for their county. It is your county at the end of the day, I could go on forever but the passion in the jersey has lost a wee bit over the last two years.”
The trauma of last year’s strife is not something that has been fully resolved but Emlyn is not seeking to reopen that can of worms - “I wouldn’t blame last year, we set standards last year and whether we carried them forward this year, I don’t know, it has to be questioned too.
“The County Board have to look at it and say we did take a stance, whether they backed us or not, we want to move on and that’s forgotten about. The players came back this year but as I say, if we don’t have our 15, if we’re missing the likes of Paul Brennan, Paddy Maguire, Wayne McKeon, Conor Beirne you know fully fit, Mossie fully fit, we are a different team.
“But we need every man pulling off the same hymn sheet or Leitrim will always be under pressure, we’re a county who can’t afford to be missing anyone, never mind six.”