It may be only mid January but 2013 has to date been very encouraging for Leitrim and while he was adamant that nobody should get too carried away with last Sunday’s win over Mayo, there were plenty of positives for Leitrim joint manager George Dugdale to savour.
One of the most pleasing aspects of the afternoon for George was the manner in which his side laid to rest the ghosts of the 22 point demolition Leitrim suffered in Castlebar at the hands of the same opponents in last year’s Connacht Championship.
“Our aim is to be competitive in every game and to try and put in a performance that gives us a chance of winning. We had a huge psychological barrier to overcome today after the trouncing of a few months ago. We talked about it and the boys responded well and we got the result in the end.
“The game last week did help plus they’re coming off the back of a holiday so let’s not write too much into it, it’s the second week in January, write nothing into it, it’s just another step on our progression.”
George was keen to stress the importance of the entire panel in any success Leitrim may enjoy saying, “We’re building a squad here where everybody is looking for their places. We have four or five people for each line on the field which is fantastic and if someone isn’t up to the mark then we have someone to step in and that was reflected today. We had Sean McWeeney come in to replace Ciaran (Egan) who wasn’t having the best of days and Robbie (Lowe) came in for Bruno (Brian McDonald) and Conor Beirne came in for Ray Cox and everybody played their part. It’s a squad effort and that was reflected by the personnel that played today.
If there was one part of the game the Leitrim supporters would not have enjoyed it was undoubtedly the final 10 minutes of the opening half as Mayo overcame a five point deficit to level matters. When asked if that period of the game was a cause for concern George replied, “It was, we got itchy feet, we stopped doing things we’d been doing for 20 minutes. We stopped working back, we stopped putting pressure on at primary source, around the middle of the field we let them run at us and they are a quality side so they will punish you.”
While he may not have been happy with how his side played immediately before half-time he was certainly pleased with the reaction after the break. “We have to give credit to our boys for the way they responded, we talked about the problems at half time, we corrected them and in all fairness we could have won by a few more but that’s the nature of it. We were a bit nervous and we snatched a few shots but the main thing was we got the win and that’s a huge psychological boost and another learning curve for us as a team.”
One of the standout performers on Sunday was goalkeeper Cathal McCrann who many have thought would offer a lot to Leitrim if he was playing further out the field but George was quick to put that issue to bed saying, “Cathal is our goalie, I know he plays midfield for his club but that’s something that happens in lots of other counties as well. Cathal is our goalkeeper and we’re not considering for that position, there is a huge difference between club football at midfield and being a regular for the county. We need Cathal in goals anyway and that’s where he will be staying.”