Coy about his own future in the job, it nevertheless seemed last Saturday afternoon in Newry’s Pairc Esler that manager Mickey Moran would like another year in the Leitrim job despite revealing that the Beirne brothers had been dropped from the team for disciplinary reasons.
Asked by the Leitrim Observer if he wished to stay at the helm of the County Senior team for a fourth year, all Moran would say was “It is not up to me!” but his tone, detailing what he would change and expect in the future, suggests that the Derry native sees a future with this current Leitrim team.
Asked if there was a degree of what might have been had Wayne McKeon, Conor & Tomas Beirne and the injured Ronan Gallagher being available last Saturday, Moran said “Let’s put it like this and I’ll be quite honest about it, if I am back next year, I want 24 lads who are totally committed to Leitrim and no excuses whatsoever and build on this today.
“That is all you want, honesty and total commitment and I think that if I am back next year, the players I want are the ones that are in for the long haul and who are going to be totally committed.”
WithTomas & Conor Beirne also dropped for breaching the team’s Players Charter, Moran told the Observer “Things have come to light too. To be honest, Tomas and Conor, Conor has just lost interest and Tomas said he was working but he was elsewhere last week so they were dropped.”
Nevertheless, Moran expressed real pride in his young team’s efforts “I am so proud of the lads that stepped up, we have a good young squad. Ok, we were beaten and Down there in the second half were quite strong but we weren’t out of our total depth and I don’t think that eight points is a true reflection of the game.
“I thought the effort the lads put in and the football they played was terrific. They dominated the break-ball situation in the second half and that was key. Down upped the ante and countered our sweeper again, but I am very proud of the lads. They gave it everything they had.
“We had a few wee half chances and we didn’t make us of them, the goal chance that Conor had was saved by the keeper, just wee things that went against us. I very proud of them in terms of they didn’t give up and they tried to play football right to the end.
The breaking ball was rightly identified by the Leitrim manager and it was a theme Morna returned to, emphasising that many believed his team were in for a hiding given the playes his team were without - “I’d say that if some people were betting on this today, they’d have us beaten by 20 points today but to be fair to them, they stood up and I’m very, very proud of them.
“That’s where the game was won, in the breaking ball situation. They were able to win quality ball and be able to feed their forwards quality ball. We were doing that in the first half.
“I don’t know if it was a penalty or not but it would have been nice not to have given Down that bit of a lead. The Down goal did settle us and they did get some great wee scores and I am just so proud of them.”
As for the future of a young Leitrim team, Moran said “We’re on an upward curve if I could put it like that and if we can keep these young players, have a stab at the fourth division and get promotion, it would mean the world to them.”