Old friends are best but Leitrim manager Mickey Moran is hoping that it will be third time lucky next Sunday when his team take on Connacht Champions Roscommon in the Provincial Championship Semi-Final in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada (2.00 throw-in).
By Philip Rooney
Now in his third year at the Leitrim helm, Mickey had experienced a frustrating time as far as results were concerned but having achieved that elusive victory in Markievicz Park, thoughts quickly turned to dethroning Roscommon. Asked if there was any pressure on the Leitrim team as a result of the victory over Sligo, Mickey insisted it is the type of pressure to be savoured!
“I think anybody in Leitrim would take the pressure of an extra match because, so often, we haven’t done it in the last two or three years, particularly at this level. We savoured it but once the final whistle went my mind was straight was straight on to Tuesday night and the next training session and that’s the way you have to approach it.”
After the victory over Sligo Mickey vented his frustration to the nation for the manner in which his side had been dismissed by many in the build-up to the game. Speaking at last week’s press night, Mickey acknowledged his “temper was up” but was keen to point out he was full of praise for his players after their victory.
“Look, I gave a five minute interview to RTE and this is the last word I am going to say on it and four and a half minutes of that was absolute praise for the players, the backroom team, the county board, the supporters club and all our supporters and I commented on how great it was to see Leitrim people out on the pitch enjoying themselves after a match.
“That was four and a half minutes I absolutely praised everybody and then, I answered a rhetorical question that ‘Nobody gave you chance?’
“My temper was up a wee bit because the lads were hurt a wee bit because there was no mention of any players and the fact that some people didn’t even bother to find out who these lads were and give them the same respect as any other team.
“That’s under the bridge now and we used it as motivation and at the end of the day we had a win and we are looking to get another win. If we don’t people will slate us but we know the work we put in since Christmas to build nearly a new team and it’s nice that the lads are getting credit for the way they played and obviously they put in a hell of a lot of effort and I have nothing but praise for them.”
With attention switching to Leitrim’s third meeting with Roscommon in as many years, Mickey knows only too well it will take a significant effort from his players if they are to claim their second scalp of the championship.
“They are Connacht champions, they are a very mature team, a hell of a good team and it will take a hell of a lot of effort from us. I’m quite happy the lads have been putting that in and hopefully we will have enough done to get closer to Roscommon this year.”
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.