Anyone knowing Brian Breen might find it hard to believe that he might struggle to put his thoughts into words but for a momentary pause, the joint Leitrim manager almost found the potent mixture of delight and relief too much to overcome.
“It’s hard to know how I feel at the moment, delighted and relieved I suppose,” Brian told the Observer minutes after the final whistle, “We talked all the previous weeks about how tough it is going to be and we realised it today.
“We’re absolutely delighted to get the win here today, don’t get me wrong. In people’s eyes, we were on a loser coming over here but let’s not forget how London played, they prepared diligently for this game.
“As I said before, every five years, Leitrim come around and it is one game that they are targeting that they can win and it is obvious that they put a huge effort in. All credit to them.”
If the momentary struggle for words was new, Brian’s managerial side kicked in quickly as he was far from happy with the performance of his team – “We’re delighted with the win, not delighted with a lot of our performances, a lot of guys were below par on the day.
“Conditions were tough, we’re not making excuses but some guys seemed to have chosen the wrong foot-wear, something that we have to talk about. But as a management, you have to rely on guys to be able to personalise their own gear but we live to fight another day.”
Brian & George also won a lot of plaudits for their work on the sideline in introducing Shane Moran and Enda Williams and the former Leitrim star deflected the praise, instead highlighting the role played by the entire squad.
“Enda proved his experience and his worth and the time to bring him on was the right time to bring him on. Some people might have argued that we should have started him but that is the call we made. Shane as well, we made a tough call during the week to leave Shane out.
“Shane was in the driving seat, Darren was doing exams and he had a bit of an injury so he hadn’t trained properly.
“For once we got it right but the glory of it was, we had a very strong bench to come on. We have a panel of 26, we left out one or two guys and anyone of those 26 can play a role. It is not like previous years where maybe one or two guys wouldn’t get the opportunity to play a role, in hindsight, the bench won it for us today.”
Brian also agreed that Paul Brennan performed a vital role throughout the game – “Paul did an awful lot of work, put his body on the line, gave everything he had. We just needed at the end to try and unlock a score or two and that is why we brought Colin on. “
But most of all, Brian highlighted the patience of his team in securing the win, even if he admitted that panic almost set in at one stage during the second half – “It was a game of remaining patient, not panicking but we seemed to panic with 20, 15 minutes to go.
“I remember looking at the clock, we seemed to be taking opportunities from far out and the wrong options. We were trying to get the message in not to panic, we had a nice breeze there and that made a bit of a difference. It was a matter of remaining patient and trying to pick them off and that is what we did.”
And like George Dugdale, Brian believes that the victory will do wonders for the confidence of a relatively inexperienced Leitrim team – “A win is a win, whether it is against London or any other team in the championship. It is great for these lads, they’re a new bunch of lads, they’re young lads.
“It is not as if we have a team that is around for four or five years and let’s not under-estimate that. A lot of lads have come in for the first time this year and a win like that is a boost to the confidence.
“The prize for winning today is a trip to McHale Park in three weeks time, something we’re going to enjoy. We’ll savour the moment for the moment but Tuesday night, we’ll be sitting down and preparing for Mayo’s demise.”