A man with great gra for both counties, John O’Mahony displayed all of his political skills when discussing last Sunday’s Connacht Semi-Final in McHale Park, feeling that the match did neither team any good.
Speaking with the Observer, the former Leitrim, Galway and Mayo manager said “I would have great empathy with Leitrim and neither Leitrim nor Mayo would have benefitted out of today really.
“Mayo from the point of view that they didn’t get a test, Leitrim from the point of view that it is hard to pick it up after that.”
Yet O’Mahony, now representing Mayo in the Dail, was impressed by Leitrim’s start to the encounter – “For the first 25 minutes, Leitrim were actually in contention and they actually played a nicer style of football than Mayo in that they kicked the ball and Mayo tried to run at the Leitrim defence in waves and as a result of that, some of their forwards weren’t getting the ball or getting the supply.
“Leitrim, you could see a lot of work having gone in there and a lot of coaching but the physical strength wasn’t there and at the end of the day that the difficult thing.”
O’Mahony also hopes that Leitrim approach the Qualifiers with the right attitude – “It is hugely important that they dust themselves down and go again for the qualifiers even thought that is the last thing they’ll be feeling for this evening.
“They are some fine footballers within the squad but not enough of them to make the impression they need or maybe not as many of them are as strong as when I was there as manager in the mid 90s.”
And John had praise for two of his former charges in taking over the Leitrim squad – “It was nice to see Barney and George. I would have spoken to George recently and it is great to see them coming back into it again because management is a difficult game.
“It is difficult at the moment with the pressures of emigration and I just commend the lads for the work they have done and for me, it just epitomises everything that was in Leitrim when I was there, great passion, great community spirit and all for the cause.
“I would wish them well, today might be a bad day for them but I have no doubt that there will be brighter days ahead. The Mayos and the Galways and all the stronger counties, the Dublins, they need the Leitrims to continue to work as hard and it needs to be appreciated as well.”