Leitrim manager Terry Hyland with selector Padraig McGourty. Photo by Willie Donnellan.
You want some idea of how serious Terry Hyland is treating next Saturday’s clash with Limerick? Easy - the Leitrim manager is urging his troops to treat it like a championship match.
Leitrim travel to Kilmallock for round four of the Allianz NFL Division 4 and nobody is resting on their laurels. “Saturday’s game is no different than the Antrim game. There is a lot to be got out of it as regards the League so of course we’re looking forward to it.
“It is a do or die game for Limerick. They have two choices - they can go and win the game and keep their hat in the ring or if they are beaten, chances are they are gone. It is like a championship game for Limerick so you have to treat it that way as well. It puts a different spin on where the opposition is coming from.”
Leitrim go into the game on the back of three wins but their manager is confident that their momentum won’t be halted by a week’s rest last weekend. “The break won’t interrupt the momentum part of it, a lot of that is the mental process more than anything else.”
For Hyland, it all comes back to self-belief: “I have a very simplistic view of this thing - your head tells your body what to do.
Sometimes the head decides to drop, the body drops too. You could see the resilience the last day against Antrim and Wicklow, they didn’t give up in the game and they kept at it.
“They are going to need lots more of that in this league because they are going to be in games where they are in tight situations and towards of a game they might be one or two points behind and they need to get something out of it and they are going to have to push for it.”
Looking at Limerick, Terry takes nothing for granted: “They had a couple of wins in the beginning and they got caught the last week but as you see, fine margins. There but for the grace of God, we could have been caught the last week.
"Those are the fine lines and you have to be very careful that you keep that line as tight as possible coming up to the end of a game so that you are going to get something out of it.”
Neither is the manager worried about the growing hype among supporters. “That’s supporters, they pay their €20 and are entitled to get carried away. As footballers and as athletes, we just have to keep our feet on the ground and get on with the next game because that it what it is all about, the next game. To be fair, the lads are grounded, they know exactly where they are.
“Leitrim would have been in a similar situation a few years ago when they were going for promotion towards the end of the league and it didn’t happen. Some of these players have that in their memory bank so it isn’t hard to keep their feet on the ground.”
As for a verdict, Terry simply says “I’m confident that we will go out and play to our ability, which I think we have. If we fulfilled that ability and that potential, the result is there for us to take. If we don’t, we get caught.”