You get the impression that Ray Cox would rather take on the fiercest corner-back than do interviews but for a man who prefers to do his talking on the field, the Annaduff man is more than able to get the point across that Leitrim have nothing to fear from travelling to Castlebar.
Reluctantly press-ganged into an interview with the Observer, Ray relishes the thought of playing Mayo and mainly because he feels that Leitrim will play without fear in McHale Park – “I’m looking forward to it. The fear factor was there against London, we don’t fear going over to Mayo.
“The win against London will have huge benefits, there are a lot of young lads out there and there are a lot of good footballers coming through. We just didn’t want to be the first team to be beaten in London in 30 years.
“There is no pressure on us going to Mayo, not a bit, and we don’t fear going to Mayo. If we can hold Mayo or the first 10, 15 minutes, not let them score, try to pick off a few scores ourselves and put a bit of doubt into their minds, anything can happen. ”
Much of Ray’s belief comes from the performance against London which came with tremendous pressure – “Even when we went three points down, I still knew at the back of my mind that we were still going to come out with a win, there was no doubt about it, I just had that feeling we were going to win. I know the fans probably got a bit excited and nervous about it but the players didn’t panic at all.”
A man who clearly enjoys his football, Ray admits to a few regrets over his career that he wasn’t more dedicated when he was young – “I’m the oldest and I think I’m the only married man on it too. When I was 24 years of age, I didn’t commit to the county.
“Des Dolan said to me that you’ll regret it when you’re 30 years of age and he was dead right, I did regret it because when I was playing good football, when I was young and fit at 24, I just walked away from the County.
“Any lad that gets called up to the county, he should come because in the later years of your life, you’ll just regret it. I’m enjoying my football now.”
Despite the losses of key players this year, Ray contends that this Leitrim squad is as united as any other he has ever played on - “ Of all the years, I’m especially enjoying my football this year, the craic is good, you get on well with everybody. We fight for everything and we all get on.
“If we can just hold on to the team for another year or two, I’ve no doubt in my mind that they’ll get promotion and get out of Division Four and go from there. Barney and George are doing a great job, Ollie Cummins there is doing a great job training.
“There were a couple of bad league performances, we lost James Glancy and Mulligan to injury and if we had all right, we would have won a lot of them games. Mulligan was a big losses, everything go through him and he would put a ball down your throat from centre-half forward.
“He was a big loss at the start of the League. If we had beaten Limerick, the break came at the wrong time and we had to wait three weeks for the next game and it just took the momentum from us.”
Mayo promise to be tough opposition as Ray readily agrees but he still sees promise for the future – “Mayo are strong all over the field, they have top class footballers everywhere and it is going to be a tough hour but if we can hold them for the first 15, 20 minutes and put a bit of doubt in their mind, anything is possible.”
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