When Declan Darcy lifted the Nestor Cup in the magical summer of 1994 as Leitrim were crowned Connacht Champions for the second time it seemed as though it was the beginning of a golden era for the footballers and football supporters of the county.
Unfortunately that July day in Hyde Park has not been repeated since but on Sunday last in Ballinamore Leitrim issued a real signal of intent and illustrated that they are certainly going in the right direction as they recorded their first win over Mayo at senior level since that famous ‘94 final.
Years of frustration had taught Leitrim fans not to be overly confident as they descended upon Pairc Sheáin Uí Eislin, Ballinamore on Sunday last. Mayo contested last year’s All-Ireland final and in case anybody could forget they also inflicted a 22 point defeat on Leitrim in the Connacht Championship.
While a win in the FBD League does not guarantee success later in the year the result is significant as it helps eradicate the memories of last June and helps instil a fresh self of confidence. As joint manager George Dugdale stated, “The main thing was we got the win and that’s a huge psychological boost and another learning curve for us as a team.”
Emlyn Mulligan, who has been appointed team captain for 2013, was pleased to have recorded successive wins and feels “You have to earn the right to be winning Connacht titles. If it’s a case that we have to win the FBD League first then so be it. We’re over the moon and it gives the lads great confidence for going back training this week and we’ll look forward to GMIT.”