With a place in the Connacht Football final at stake there will be no holding back this Sunday as Leitrim take on defending champions Roscommon in the semi-finals of the Connacht SFC with a 2pm throw in.
Both sides will come into the game high on confidence. Roscommon brushed aside New York 3-21 to 1-11 at the quarter final stage while Leitrim caused somewhat of a surprise when the narrowly defeated hot favourites Sligo 1-10 to 10 at the same stage.
The two teams will also have the luxury of naming an unchanged team for the semi-final showdown. There will be a few players however for Roscommon that will be making their debut on Irish soil this Sunday.
Having made impressive debuts against New York at the quarter final stage Donal Ward, Niall Carty and Senan O’Grady will have the chance to experience their first taste of championship football in Ireland this weekend.
Leitrim however will be looking to cause yet another upset in the Connacht SFC and also come into the game without any major injury concerns. Mickey Moran’s men sprung a surprise when the defeated Sligo but Sligo defender Charlie Harrison believes that Leitrim were not given full credit for their win.
“A lot of people were saying we were caught on the hop but I don’t think so,” said Harrison. “I just think Leitrim were better than us.
“Maybe we haven’t been ourselves this year. But they are a young side, seven debutantes against us; they were full of energy and their work-rate off the ball was fantastic.”
Harrison also believes that the influence of Leitrim manager Mickey Moran is another reason for the turn around in their fortunes ” He is probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever worked under. His drills, everything.
“It was like a maze of cones when you walked out on to the pitch, cones there, there, there, but every drill was marked out and you weren’t spending a long time on everything. There was no running without the ball, everything was with the ball.
“It’s typically Mickey Moran-style the way Leitrim are playing at the moment, short passing and the ball-handling skills within the tackle are very good. Coaching is his forte.”
Another key influence on the Leitrim team is Emlyn Mulligan who has swung his career back around after suffering a number of injury plagued campaigns “There were a couple of years there when he was struggling with a cruciate so it is great to see him back,” said Moran. “He is a great lad and a helluva footballer.”
Coming into the game Leitrim are the definite underdogs. Roscommon beat Leitrim at the same point in the competition last year by a convincing six points and went on to win the Connacht title by defeating Sligo.
Leitirm by contrast last won the Connacht title in 1994 and have some way to go to match Roscommon’s 20 titles. Playing Leitrim at home will not be easy with a fired up crowd behind them but Roscommon are taken to beat Leitrim and face either Galway or Mayo in the Connacht SFC final.
LEITRIM (SFC v Roscommon): C McCrann; D Reynolds, R Gallagher, P Maguire; B Prior, G Reynolds, W McKeon; T Beirne, D Lowe; P Brennan, E Mulligan, R Lowe; A Croal, C Beirne, J Glancy.
ROSCOMMON (v Leitrim): G Claffey; S McDermott, P Domican, N Carty; I Kilbride, D Keenan, D Ward; M Finneran, K Mannion; S O’Grady, K Higgins, C Cregg; C Devanney, S Kilbride, D Shine.