Manager Brendan Guckian pictured with selectors John O'Mahony and Seamus Quinn. Photo by Willie Donnellan
If Leitrim footballers know one thing when it comes to Championship football, it is the pressure that comes with everyone predicting a championship shock. London talked very strongly last year about a surprise in Ruislip and now the sounds from Gaelic Park suggest a first ever Championship win for the Exiles.
And Brendan Guckian knows that trying to avoid such talk is useless - “The lads are hearing it, you can’t wrap them up in cotton wool. People are saying that and the reason people are saying that is New York have quality players.
“Going to London last year, we were listening to the same that London were going to overturn us but at the end of the day, we’re trying to focus on ourselves as much as possible and see what happens from there.
“London was a challenge and New York is going to be an extremely difficult challenge. But it is championship and lads want to play championship football and win Championship football. New York shouldn’t be any different - we want to play the game and we want to win the game.”
Rumours about the Exiles are circulating faster than a F1 car and New York even defeated Corofin last Thursday in a challenge game in Gaelic Park. But it is clear that Leitrim are doing their homework, even if they are still a little bit in the dark.
“We’re getting bits and pieces of information every week but nobody knows for definite. They definitely have quality players in their squad, the likes of Jamie Clarke and McKenna from Monaghan, J.J. Matthews from Longford, all good footballers, all inter-county players.
“We’re trying to get as much information as we can but in saying that, a lot of that is outside our control. We’re trying to focus what is within our control and that is the panel of 30 that we have.”
Playing in New York brings very different challenges to what Leitrim would face if they were travelling to MacHale Park or Pearse Stadium but it is a challenge Brendan and Leitrim are embracing - “It is obviously not ideal, you’d prefer to be playing at home but I suppose it is up to us to prepare the lads to get them ready for the trip.
“We have everything prepared for when we get there and hopefully everything runs smoothly.”