Stopping Glencar/Manor’s bid for five titles in a row was a bonus according to Emlyn Mulligan but the main aim was for Melvin Gaels to win a long awaited County title.
“We’re just delighted that we’re after stopping Manor’s ‘Drive for Five’ but that wasn’t our incentive, we just wanted to win it for ourselves because we know you don’t get many opportunities to win county championships. I’m just delighted for the lads and the management and the fans here today.”
With so much hype and attention surrounding this year’s final Emlyn acknowledged that “It was a strange feeling coming in to this game. People were tipping us but Manor were going for a five in a row and us after coming up from Intermediate last year. Obviously it’s a massive turnaround for us in two years, we’re just delighted to get out of here with a victory. It finished 2-7 to 0-7 but I don’t think it was a six point game, we had misses and they had a few as well.
“It was a very fast paced game, it was an enjoyable hard hitting game, it got maybe physical towards the end. We did it the hard way, David McSharry went off injured early and he started off so well and he’s probably our best inside at the moment but James Phelan stood up there, Peter McGowan had a super game when he came on.
“There were heroes all over the pitch, Paul Brennan was super driving from the back, Shane Ryan in the corner - you could name them all day but we had a squad this year and we put in a lot of work. Two years ago when we were relegated it was a sad day for the club but we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves and we got back together and this is what we’ve got out of it. We’re just delighted.”
The disappointment of relegation two years ago was a turning point said Emlyn - “Without a doubt. There were different things going on in the club with discipline and things like that, there was always a lack of discipline. When we got relegated we said to ourselves, ‘lads if we don’t take this seriously we’ll be here for a long time’. It bred in a few new young lads, gave them an opportunity to play and we got through last year.
“We knew that Manor would be a team we would have to beat to win it. We played them twice, I wouldn’t read much into the first game but we knew today was a huge game and I’m just delighted to come out the right side of it.”
Connacht is now looming and Emlyn insists that Melvin Gaels will be looking to give their all when representing Leitrim at provincial level this year - “We were intermediate last year and I personally thought myself we could kick on and give Connacht a good crack. It was disappointing that we never turned up that day against Davitt’s and we left it too late to come back. They went on to an All-Ireland final but it was disappointing for ourselves.
“There will be celebrations for a few days but we’ll be back training next weekend, it’s going to be a big task but we have nothing to lose at this stage. Our main aim was to win this championship and we’ve done that and everything else now is a bonus.”