Tom Prior scores the equalising point for Leitrim late in injury time in Markievicz Park. Photo by Ivan Keaney
Leitrim may have picked up their first win of the Connacht U17 Championship last Friday against Sligo but that doesn’t stop manager Gene Bohan for demanding the best from his young players.
Undefeated Galway, through to the Connacht Final, visit Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada this Friday, July 7, (7.30 pm throw-in) and the Leitrim manager wants his team to front up and beat the Tribesmen - even if he acknowledges it might be a long shot.
“We said to the lads in the middle of the field, let’s go and beat Galway,” revealed Gene to the Observer, “How realistic that is, I don’t know but that is the way we are going to go. That is the way we are going to train Wednesday night and we’ll go with that in our mind that we are going to beat Galway on Friday night in Pairc Sean.
“That’s the way it has to be, we’re not going to go out and bow down to anyone. We’re not going to let someone come to Leitrim and roll over for them, these lads won’t roll over for them.”
And Gene stresses that this U17 team is the match of anyone in the country - “I looked at the results in Leinster and I see Wicklow beating Dublin, we beat Wicklow by six points in a challenge match, I see Offaly losing to Meath by a point, we beat Offaly by four points in a challenge match, I see Longford beating Carlow and we beat Carlow and drew with Longford.
“As I keep saying, there is huge potential in this group, we’ve just been very unlucky through the year with injuries and different things but let’s push on from here.”
As for last Friday hard fought and very late win over Sligo in Markievicz Park, Gene was just delighted to get the victory - “Delighted with it, delighted for the lads, they’ve put in great effort since January and as I probably said to last week, we’ve been very unlucky along with the way things played out for us in different games so far.
“We won’t go over that again but we’re just delighted with the way things worked out. Talking to them in the middle of the field, they are thrilled and some of them are saying when was the last time a Leitrim Minor team won? It is a championship win for a Leitrim Minor team and that is a positive to take out of today.
“They are a great bunch of lads, a lot of things didn’t work for them today. We got a little boost with the man being sent off. That was a help to us in the end when we got a little bit of a run on them but the lads fought hard and even when things were going well for them, they kept at it.
“I think before the game, we as a management team were trying our best to get the lads up for the game but realistically they were feeling they were out of the championship and it was probably hard to lift themselves up for it and I’d say that probably played a part in the early stages of it too.
“Chances that maybe we’d have taken against Roscommon we weren’t taking them today but when it counted at the end, they took their chances and pushed on.”