Leitrim joint-manager Barney Breen has admitted that Sunday’s demolition of New York in the first round of the Connacht SFC is no indication of his team’s chances this year.
It’s been almost 20 years since they’ve won the Connacht crown and if they have any chance of bridging that gap this year, captain Emlyn Mulligan, who finished with a haul of 3-7 in their 4-19 to 0-7 victory, will need to replicate his scoring performance against stiffer opposition.
“It’s hard to judge with a result like that,” said Breen after the game on Sunday in the Bronx. “You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Against New York, if you put in a performance like that, everyone says ‘well, that’s what should have happened’. But we did as well as we could. We approached it professionally as if it was a Connacht championship game at home and we got the job done.”
Breen was full of praise for Mulligan but also emphasised the 70 minutes of work done in warm conditions by half-back Wayne McKeon, full forward James Glancy, corner forward and goalscorer Robbie Lowe and man of the match Tomas Beirne who was a colossus in midfield.
“Emlyn is a great lad and it’s well documented that he’s a great player. But he’s as good as the team around him. We felt it was a team effort today and Emlyn came out on top.”
His overriding emotion, however, was relief Leitrim had avoided what could have been a calamitous defeat.
“It’s a totally different situation. It’s a real carnival atmosphere and it’s the biggest day in the New York calendar. We came out here knowing there would be serious heat on a 3G (astro-turf) pitch so there were heaps of ways that it could go wrong. But fortunately, thanks to some meticulous planning since December, we got the result we were looking for. We’re looking forward to the next seven weeks playing the winners of Sligo and London at home. But we realise there’s a lot of hard work to do between now and June 23rd.”
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