Having seen his side get the new year off to a winning start Leitrim joint manager Barney Breen was understandably pleased with the victory his side recorded over near neighbours Roscommon in Elphin and while it may not have been a classic encounter there were plenty of positives to be taken from the opening day.
Reflecting on the performance Barney stated, “We’ve had minimum football action prior to now and we showed that in the first half. With the conditions that were out there it was very sticky, it was the two sets of backs that were winning the battles and that was reflected on the score throughout the game. I felt in the final 15 minutes of the first half we got to grips not only with the backs but we showed signs of positivity.”
The introduction of second half substitutes Conor Beirne and Emlyn Mulligan was ultimately what swung the game in Leitrim’s direction and Barney agreed those fresh legs were pivotal to Leitrim’s cause.
“When you have the quality of Emlyn and Conor Beirne to come on that’s great and they turned the game for us. The fresh legs at a time when everyone was a bit tired and a bit stiff they came on and turned the game.”
There were just 22 players available for selection for Leitrim last Sunday and a similar number are expected to be ready for next weekend’s game with Mayo but the bigger picture is healthier as Barney revealed a number of players are joining up with the panel.
“We’re down to the bare minimum, we had only 22 togged out and we’re delighted with the win. We’ll be dealing with a similar hand next week. Emlyn pulled a quad on Thursday night so he didn’t start even though he wasn’t in bad shape. We’ll probably be playing something similar next week. Enda Wiliams is due back from Australia this week, he’ll not be available for a few weeks until we assess his situation. BB Brennan was here today and he has joined the squad and Barry Prior is back from Australia.
“Things are looking fairly positive and we are up to nearly 30 in the squad, Gary Reynolds is due back on January 16 and that’s all part of the long term squad plans. Obviously these guys coming back they are going to have to do the pre-season that the other guys have already done so they are behind everyone else. They don’t automatically come on, we have to assess them and take it from there and everyone knows that and is happy with that.”
However, one player who will not be rejoining the panel is Tomas Beirne who Barney revealed had to withdraw due to work commitments with Barney stating, “Tomas Beirne unfortunately was involved early on but he couldn’t commit due to work commitments and unfortunately he’s not available and that’s where it stands at the moment.”