Mickey Moran might have joked that the excitement and tension almost gave him a heart attack but there was no hiding the raw delight that the former Leitrim manager took in the Green & Gold’s victory in Pairc Sean last Saturday.
“I’m absolutely delighted for everyone in Leitrim,” Mickey told the Observer, “the players, the management, the backroom staff and all the supporters, a day to remember. It was a great tonic for me, football the way it was meant to be played, with heart and passion, loads of skill. I thought Leitrim controlled the game, there were a couple of half goal chances for Wicklow in the first half but Cathal made a tremendous save, he is a top class goal-keeper.
“Leitrim got lovely manufactured scores and showed a lot of coolness, calmness and skill and deservedly won the game. Their pride and passion in the jersey was great to see.”
Mickey also felt that the Wicklow display was a more accurate reflection of Leitrim’s efforts than the destruction in McHale Park – “The Mayo game wasn’t a true reflection because for about 25 minutes of that game, they were well in the game but to come back and perform like that, they showed they had a wee bit of pride, a wee bit of character and pride in the jersey.”
Mickey, who had to step down as manager last year due to health issues, was delighted with Leitrim’s progress even if it was a nerve wracking finale – “I thought I was going to need another triple bypass. My two cousins brought me to two or three Derry matches and all the Leitrim matches, I wouldn’t miss it and I’ll be there next week too.
“I’m just so delighted for everyone, the way the supporters got behind the team. I hope they enjoy every minute of it and of course, it has broke the old bogey of it of having never won a Qualifier. This is what Championship is about.”