Leitrim manager Brendan Guckian celebrates with captain Donal Wrynn after the final whistle. Photo by Willie Donnellan
If there was one message that Brendan Guckian has been preaching all year is that we have yet to see what Leitrim are truly capable of. And on Saturday against Louth, the Leitrim manager was delighted to see his team deliver on their promise.
For a man that has been under huge pressure all year, it was typical of Brendan that his first thoughts were for his players - “I spoke to the lads today about that, that all I wanted to say to you today and to other people - I told you, I told you they had talent, I told they had skills, I told you they’d work and they did that today.
“I’m so, so happy for the lads with the amount of work they’ve put in. They didn’t showcase it at times but today thankfully they did.”
Naturally the performance really stood out for the Leitrim boss and he traced it’s evolution to Gaelic Park in New York - “25 points, 21 from play is a great return. Going back, the New York game there was great pressure, Roscommon again there was probably that fear factor there.
“There is resilience and that is where I think New York comes into play. They showed great resilience in New York, it is in them. They were disappointed with Roscommon, they have belief in themselves and rightly so. They went out today and beat a Division 2 team and beat them convincingly.
“Today we said today was a day for expressing themselves and I’m delighted they did. I’m absolutely delighted for the GAA fans of Leitrim, especially the people who were there today. I suppose there have been doubters and rightly so at times.
“But I think anybody who was in the stand or in the ground today would have to be happy with our performance.”
It was a tough couple of weeks for the Leitrim squad with six members of the team leaving the squad since the Roscommon game but for Brendan, the stress actually brought the team closer together - “I suppose there was talk this week of guys who were leaving the panel but at the end of the day, we have a very unified panel.
“We have guys who want to be part of it and I’m so happy for them. As I said to you last week, all I wanted was a display that would showcase the hard work they have put in and in fairness, they did that today.”
Brendan agreed that the dismissal of Louth’s James Craven did make a big difference to the result - “We have to be realistic, the sending off did make a massive difference because it gave us the opportunity to push up on Louth and once we did that, they couldn’t deal with that.
“Some of the lads, Damien, Ryan, Darragh, were kicking fantastic points so definitely I would say the sending off did have a bearing on it but I’m just glad that the lads reacted positively to it.”
As for the Qualifiers, Brendan isn’t overly worried with who the draw brings on Monday morning - “Not overly, I’d like to get a home draw and I’d like for the people to come out and support us again and I’d just like for the lads to showcase their talents again.
“We’re in bonus territory - are we going to sit back, no we’re not and we’re want to give the next match a real good shot, the same as we gave todays.”
SEE THIS WEEK’S LEITRIM OBSERVER FOR MORE ANALYSIS & REACTION TO SATURDAY’S QUALIFIER VICTORY