A weaker than expected Leitrim team take on neighbours Fermanagh in a unique Connacht Junior Championship First Round clash next Friday evening, May 1, in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada hoping to spark another run to a Connacht Final.
Last years Junior side were desperately unlucky not to win the Connacht Junior Final against Roscommon and the expectations were that this years side would feature many of the expanded Leitrim Senior panel brought in by Mickey Moran and John Morrison.
However, Junior team Manager and Senior selector Martin McGowan admits that next Fridays team will not feature all those eligible to play for the Countys second string side as the proximity of the May 31, clash with Roscommon is taking precedence.
"We have 20 players on this years panel who are eligible for the Junior team as they didnt play Senior Championship last year. But with the proximity of the RoscommonÓgame, we dont want to risk injury for any of the lads," Martin revealed.
"We will have seven or eight guys from the squad. There are guys like Paddy McGowan who is eligible to play but Paddy is involved with Dromahair and the Celebrity Bainisteoir Final the following week so it would be very unfair to him to ask him to play on Friday."
Among those who are eligible but are likely to miss out on Friday are Tomas Beirne, Ray Cox, DeclanÓgilhooley, St. Marys James Glancy, Shane Canning, Colm Clarke, BrendanÓgallagher, James Holohan & Daniel Beck – all of whom have seen action in the National League this year.
However, Martin reveals that Leitrim will still have a strong team out on Friday against Fermanagh – "We havent picked the squad yet but I think we may have David Flynn, Liam Ferguson, Bornacoolas John McGuinness, Sean McGourty, Philip Farrelly and Darren Sweeney and maybe Damien ODonnell from the Senior training squad.
"Mohills Ciaran Kennedy, John McGuinness and RonanÓgallagher will be involved while Mark Creegan from Cloone, Emmett Mahon and Dara McKiernan from Kiltubrid and St. Marys Anthony Conway will be coming in. Sean Murray from Ballinamore might also be coming in.
"There is a lot of experience among the players who have lined out at every level for Leitrim. But it is hard to know exactly where we stand. We have had a couple of challenge games and there is a good squad of players there now."
As for Fermanagh, Martin is somewhat in the dark about the challenge of the Ernemen – "We dont know a lot about Fermanagh and well just have to take their challenge at face value. Im sure theyll be well prepared like all northern teams, move the ball fast and will be tough opposition.
"There is no Ulster Junior Championship so Cavan played in Leinster last year while Fermanagh got permission to play in Connacht this year.
"There is always an expectation to do well in the Junior after we reached the All-Ireland Final in 2004 but well just get on with the game, take it as it comes and just see how it goes," concluded Martin.
The winners of the game will face Mayo in a Connacht Semi-Final on Friday, May 15, with the Final being held as the curtain raiser for the Leitrim and RoscommonÓgame on May 31, in Carrick-on-Shannon.
This full report is available thanks to the Leitrim Observer
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29-Apr-09 by LeitrimObserver.ie