The action is really hotting up and as we are getting down to the last four, we will take a quick look back at some of the talking points from the weekend’s action in the Connacht Gold Senior Championship.
Simply click on our photo gallery to follow our look back at round one or read below to see our views on an intriguing week two.
And look to www.leitrimobserver.ie on Tuesday evenings for our talking points from the Fox’s Monumentals Intermediate Championship Quarter-Finals.
MOHILL RISE TO THE OCCASION
It was far from their most accomplished performance but even in their struggles against Drumreilly last Saturday, Mohill showed the profound changes that have been wrought on the club’s psyche over the last three years.
There is absolutely no doubt that five years ago, Mohill would have crumpled under the pressure Drumreilly put them under but there is a resolve and inner strength in this Mohill team that we normally expect from the likes of Aughawillan.
With their entire full-back line and losing Shane Quinn and Alan McLoughlin to black cards, the ingredients were all there for a capitulation but Mohill showed true resolve, dug in and backed by their incredible fitness, came through. That is the platform to build a Championship winning team around!
WILL SEAN O’HESLIN’S BE UNDERCOOKED FOR MASSIVE SEMI-FINAL?
The question worrying any Ballinamore fan since last Saturday’s facile win over Dromahair is are last year’s Intermediate Champions going into this year’s Semi-Final undercooked and vulnerable to a sucker punch?
O’Heslin’s have met and beaten Mohill, Melvin Gaels and Aughawillan in this campaign and yet they are still struggling to convince neutrals, and some of their own fans, that they can go all the way. They have marched through the rounds and have conceded just one goal, scored by Dromahair last Saturday, so far.
Their worry being whispered among the O’Heslin’s ranks is that they haven’t been truly tested and a meeting with a battle hardened Aughawillan or Glencar/Manorhamilton in the semi-finals could prove their achilles. Yet those very self doubts may be just the thing Paul Prior’s team need to keep their feet on the ground and focus on the task in hand.
WHO GAINS MOST FROM DRAW?
This is a tough one to figure out. Aughawillan will feel they left it behind them and Glencar/Manorhamilton have to be energised by their last gasp comeback but if there is any team that have a history of upping their performance in replays, it is Aughawillan and they will feel it bring them on even further.
The return of Mark Plunkett and Pearce Dolan is an enormous boost for the champions and the extra game won’t do them any harm at all but the fact that they didn’t use any sub shows just how stretched their resources are.
Glencar/Manorhamilton came through the admittedly weaker side of the draw so a tough hard game where they showed their resolve to rein in a three point deficit is a huge boost to their confidence. And they will hope to have James Glancy back in their ranks while extra game time for Conor Dolan is a big boost.
But it will come down to attitude and who has learned most from the drawn game? That’s something we won’t know until Saturday evening but here is another question - will the eventual winners be vulnerable, tired and exhausted for what would be their fifth weekend on the trot against a waiting, watching and raring to go Sean O’Heslin’s?
GOALS MIGHT WIN GAMES BUT SO DO KEEPERS!
The conventional wisdom is St. Mary’s ability to grab three goals was the key to sinking Melvin Gaels in Sunday’s Semi-Final in Mohill. And it is true, the Carrick men finding three three-pointers to sink what was a dominant Melvin Gaels team.
But the key moments of this game may just have been two saves from Conor Glancy, the St. Mary’s netminder blocking a close shot early in the second half before making a stunning full-length diving save to deny what looked like a certain Michael Ferguson goal ten minutes from time.
Take it as gospel - had Ferguson found the net, as he seemed certain to, Melvin Gaels would be facing Mohill in the semi-finals so a shout out to the keepers, players like Glancy or Philip Farrelly who has conceded just one goal all year.
DRUMREILLY AN INSPIRATION AND AS EXAMPLE FOR EVERYONE
It is easy to get jaded watching matches week in, week out but Drumreilly’s performance last Saturday was one to lift the heart and should serve as an inspiration for much bigger and better resourced clubs in this county.
Drumreilly, counting the days until three U17s players are eligible next year, were without an injured Olly Maguire but had John McKeon back in action. The former County great clearly aggravated his badly damaged hamstring in the opening five minutes but soldiered on until the final minute.
But McKeon’s example didn’t stand out in the Drumreilly ranks as injured players refused to leave the field and every single Drumreilly player, epitomising the very best of what Club and Parish really means, ran themselves into the ground. It was what these players seemed to demand of themselves and each other.
Frankly, it was so inspirational that it moved this writer to shake the hands of five or six of the Drumreilly players as they left the field, drained, exhausted but knowing they had given every last ounce of effort in a battle against one of the current kingpins of Leitrim Club football.
All I can say is if all the clubs of Leitrim demonstrated the same commitment, pride and refusal to bend the knee the way Drumreilly did last Saturday in Cloone, then Leitrim football would be in a much healthier place!