“Roscommon steamrolled us last year if we’re being honest about and we definitely can’t let that happen again this year.” As statements of intent go, Leitrim manager Brendan Guckian can’t have stated his case any better.
Leitrim take on Connacht Champions Roscommon next Saturday in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada (5.30pm throw-in) and many are expecting Roscommon to brush Leitrim aside on the way to a Connacht Final meeting with either Galway and Sligo.
And the Leitrim manager, fresh from the excitement of an extra-time victory in New York, knows exactly when his team will face next Saturday - “Logistically, there is no problems like we had in New York but it is great to be back on our home patch, playing our nearest and dearest rivals so yes, everybody is looking forward to it.
“Everybody knows the quality of Roscommon, particularly their forward line. They’ve played two challenge games in the last seven days, putting Dublin to the pin of their collar and beat a strong Kildare team.
“Roscommon are a Division 1 team, they are top quality, they proved it in the League and they proved in their last two challenge games that they really mean business so a very, very difficult challenge ahead.
“New York was definitely a massive victory and New York had some quality players but in saying that, you are coming up against a completely different animal in Roscommon, very ruthless in their attack. Top footballers both in defence, midfield and their forward so we have to be firing on all cylinders in every area of the field.”
The memory of a record loss to Roscommon last year prompted the words at the start of this article, Brendan’s last remarks to this reporter, but there is no doubt that the memory of 2017 stings and the Leitrim manager insists that it won’t play a part in Saturday’s game.
“2018 is the way forward for us. We have a young team, they are definitely getting more confident in themselves and we’ll be treating it as a big home game. We have to focus on ourselves and go at them and challenge them.”
The victory over New York, coming after extra-time, is a huge boost to a young team and the value of the five days stateside has been enormous - “We had the opportunity of spending five days together as a group, something we never had before and we obviously got to know each other a little bit better and obviously the result, confidence wise, gave everybody a great lift.
“There is a feel-good factor around the team at the moment which is very positive. They are a young squad, we all now they are a young squad but days like New York have to be a big benefit for them in the future.
“Their backs were up against the wall, there was severe pressure, they didn’t panic for the last four and five minutes and when the opportunities arose, thankfully they took them.”
And Brendan is hopeful that Leitrim fans will turn out in big numbers next Saturday to cheer on the Green & Gold - “Pairc Sean is our home ground and there has been some fantastic days in the past in Pairc Sean, some difficult days as well. Saturday evening, you’d like to think, would suit a lot of supporters.
“I know that Roscommon will be here in big numbers and I would be hopeful and would expect that Leitrim people come out and support the lads because the lads have worked extremely hard and put in a huge effort and if we get good home support, you never know what might happen.”
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