Leitrim Minor manager Mark Heslin said after Saturday’s defeat by Roscommon I am “gutted, absolutely gutted and disappointed. I know there is a lot more in them lads than what was out there today.
“It didn’t happen, in fairness the gulf that is between the two is massive and physically, and in the football sense and athletically as well, Roscommon are phenomenal.
“I do think they will go a long way in the All-Ireland series and fortunately it was us that had to meet them – and they are heading on in good form. But look we are very disappointed and they have to pick themselves up and they know what they have to do to make an inter-county senior player, county U-21 player and with the help of God most of them will.
“The one thing we wanted going out was the wind, we wanted the wind with us. We knew if Roscommon got a start and got their tails up, they were going to be very hard to stop. That was the first blow of the day I suppose, we didn’t win the toss and they just kicked on, we couldn’t penetrate them at all early on.
“Leitrim could have had a couple of more goals, they had gave their all and it just did not work out, they were never found wanting all year for their commitment and they were never found wanting today. But we just needed things to go well for us today and certain things did not go well for us.”
On Roscommon Mark noted “They blew everyone away in the Connacht League. We knew the task we had without a doubt, we knew it would have been an uphill task but we had a great belief in ourselves and it was important to have it.
“We had a belief that if we went out and give the commitment and the work rate and the heart that is needed for Leitrim teams to beat these bigger counties, we believed we could do it. We got a wake up call today I suppose but I would like to wish Roscommon the very best of luck in the All Ireland series, as I think they will go a long way.”
As for the margin of victory, Mark added “it didn’t add it up. Yes, they gave us a hammering at Carrick-on-Shannon today. In the Connacht League we were very happy with the result against Roscommon because we knew we had started training very late. We were hoping to be fresh at this time of the year for the Connacht championship so we were not overly concerned as we had the guts of half our team missing on that day.
“We finished the League very strong, maybe if we had had the championship straight after the Connacht League it might have been different. We had a great win against Mayo, it does not happen too often. Leitrim had a good second half against Galway, which really gave us the belief that we could do something here but unfortunately it is not the way it went.”
Asked about the state of underage football in Leitrim, Mark said “I don’t want to comment too much on the Clubs, they are putting in a lot of hard work into them, in fairness to them, it is difficult with numbers, even small numbers, massive numbers are needed to get people to help and they are doing the best they can.
“As for the county structures I think last year and this year, they are starting to put something in place and I think a few years down the line you will see the benefit of it.
“The lads are realising what they need to be doing from an earlier age. If you take the Galways, Roscommons and Mayos, from 14 they are primed and they are working on them, their physicality and its aimed towards minor football and then they aim at under 21 and senior.
“It’s starting to come right and it’s never too late to start but as I said to the lads in here, it was a pity that it didn’t start four years ago. These lads are a credit, an absolute credit for the effort they put in this year. I would like to thank all the lads for their commitment from the bottom of my heart.
“I said to them in there that we had a great year with ups and downs and we had some good craic,” said Mark who thanked his selectors Derek Kelleher, Gareth Foley and Michael McGuinness, physiotherapist Fergal Howard and Coiste na nOg officers Terence Boyle, Barbara Byrne and Joe Guckian for all their help and support.
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