Leitrim might have lost the toss for home advantage but the Green & Gold will travel to Markievicz Park next Sunday with a growing sense of confidence to take on Sligo in their first ever appearance in the FBD Connacht League Final (2.00 throw-in).
Leitrim’s best ever run in the FBD League has seen them record three consecutive one point victories but now Brian Breen and George Dugdale face an intriguing clash with a Sligo team that many expect to visit Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada later in the year in the Connacht Championship.
The added sub-plot of that possible Semi-Final encounter may add a lot of intrigue and excitement to next Sunday’s meeting in Markievicz but the one and only priority for the Leitrim management team is to continue their winning run ahead of the start of the Allianz League down in Limerick on Sunday week, February 3.
Leitrim took the chance last Sunday to give starts to Sean McWeeney, Conor Beirne and new recruit Cian Reynolds but in common with the malaise that affected the rest of the team, every player suffered as Leitrim found it hard to find the rhythm.
In many ways, Leitrim were in a no-win situation – a big win over a weak Galway Mayo IT would have garnered no plaudits and trying out fringe players gave Breen & Dugdale the chance to see players in competitive action.
What Leitrim will take from the GMIT game is they were able to grind out a victory without particularly playing anywhere near their best but motivation and inspiration won’t be a problem next Sunday, the fact that Sligo are the opposition and a title is there to be won will provide all the necessary impetus for a more forceful performance.
Sligo will be no pushovers. Kevin Walsh’s side are unbeaten in the FBD competition, recording a nine point win over IT Sligo, a two point victory over NUI Galway and a one point victory over Galway last Sunday and they will be just an axious as Leitrim to lay down a marker for later in the year.
Yet as much as Leitrim can derive from next Sunday’s FBD decider, the attention is still firmly fixed on the first round of the League against Limerick, the campaign to get out of Division 4 a far more important long term goal for Leitrimm’s development
Winning next Sunday would, however, be a major boost to a team who have never experienced winning a trophy before and that may be the greatest benefit of all. Expect Leitrim to attack this game at full-tilt.
• Next Saturday will see the Under 21 Footballers in action in the Hastings Cup Shield Final against Roscommon in McGann Park in Kenagh, 2.30 throw-in, after Leitrim recorded a morale boosting 0-10 to 0-8 victory over Offaly last Saturday in Tullamore.