You know that Leitrim are taking the threat of London very seriously when midfielder Darren Sweeney emphasised that the Green & Gold will be taking the challenge of the Exiles no different than if they were travelling to take on Mayo in McHale Park.
“You don’t prepare for them any different than you would for any other team,” Darren told the Observer, “You have to treat it as if we were playing Mayo or Galway, Roscommon or Sligo. We have to treat it the exact same way we went into Markievicz last year or else we won’t stand a chance. We all saw Mayo last year getting it very, very tight against them over there, I think it went to extra-time.
“We’re under no illusions about the task in hand but we want to keep focus and get on with it. Obviously, they’re going to think that this is their opportunity. I’m sure when they are training Tuesday and Thursday nights over there, they are just thinking that we really, really have a chance of beating Leitrim. We just have to be wary of that and not, for any second, take them for granted.”
Certainly, nobody is taking anything for granted in the Leitrim camp according to Darren - “We’re under no illusions about what is ahead of us. If we don’t prepare well enough, we know we won’t come away any result in Ruislip. They’re a physically strong side, we have to be ready for that.
“We played them earlier on in the year in the League but we all know that London are a completely different side in Ruislip, it is a tight pitch and it is very, very hard to come away from there with anything. We have to be ready from the very first minute that they’re going to hit us, more than likely they’re going to play some direct ball and we have to be ready for that.”
Leitrim’s 2012 has been anything but smooth, losing players by the bucketload and manager Mickey Moran as well but Darren believes the squad have become closer and more focussed as a result - “We were all obviously shocked when Mickey had to leave but we do hear a lot of these sob stories about the players we don’t have but at the minute, we’re just focussing on the players that we have, we have an excellent panel of players there.
“This is my fourth year and above all years, this is a very tight knit group, I wouldn’t say there are any groups. We’re all a solid group, anxious to get on with the job. We have a few injuries at the minute but when we have everyone fit, we have no doubt that we have a panel capable of causing a few upsets in this year’s Connacht Championship, all going well.”
As for the finish of the League, Darren believes that Leitrim may be finding form at just the right time - “We started off the year quite well. I know it is FBD and certain teams mightn’t have been training as hard as we were at the time and maybe fitness might have been up on a few teams but I think we started the FBD quite well.
“We felt the first game, we let ourselves down against Limerick. Against Carlow, we had a great win down in Dr Cullen Park. After that, we seemed to hit a kind of a lull, our work-rate wasn’t up, our performances weren’t up but since the National League has finished up, we’ve had a few challenges and things are starting to go slightly better now. “We’re on an upward slope rather than a downward slope going into the championship and, as I’ve said a few times, we’re just anxious – we’re there, we’re ready to get going.
Quietly confident but you can’t be too confident at all, you can’t go over with an arrogance or cockiness over there because you’ll come back with your tails between your legs.”