Previewing Sunday’€’s Connacht Championship meeting of Leitrim and Sligo is taking a step into the unknown.
When teams meet in any championship game there is usually a trawl back through the records and statistics to previous clashes over the decades to check on how they fared. So many wins, losses and draws for each side since the birth of the GAA. As if what happened around 1890 could have a bearing on what will happen now or in the future. The Leitrim and Sligo players will Scórcely put much store on the match results in the days when their grandfathers cycled to Ballymote or the Showgrounds in Carrick, or even when their parents parked their Ford Cortinas or Morris Minors on the old N4 near Markievich or Páirc Seán.
What matters to the players is now!
Indeed, if they were to look at all the recent forecasts from the GAA experts, neither side would put too much effort into Sunday’€’s game, for the result appears to matter little. The Connacht title is sewn up between Roscommon, Mayo and Galway. Leitrim and Sligo are looked upon as token opposition for the big three, with the losers given little chance in the Qualifiers, unless they get a handy draw.
It is likely that Mickey Moran, Kevin Walsh and their management teams will have something to say about that when they’€’re in the huddle with the players on Sunday.
Recent form can be a barometer of sorts, but then the counties operated in different divisions in the Allianz League, with both teams having regrets about particular matches that would have altered their fortunes. A few more scores would have made all the difference in their promotion and relegation shake-up.
Every score will matter on Sunday in what should be a close call either way. We don’€’t need many fingers to total the Leitrim and Sligo Nestor Cup successes, while both counties could write volumes about near misses and hard luck stories.
Leitrim desperately need a championship victory, while Sligo will want to take the first steps of atonement for missing out last year, when they were odds-on favourites in the Connacht Final having dismissed both Galway and Mayo. They appeared to have committed the cardinal error of taking Roscommon for granted. It can be difficult for the lesser lights like Sunday’€’s opponents to operate in a winning mode, they need to develop the brashness and cockiness of the bigger guns.
While memories of the displays of Packie McGarty, Cathal Flynn, Nace O’€’Dowd and Mickey Kearins will be part and parcel of Sunday, what will really matter is how Mossie Beirne, Adrian Croal, Charlie Harrison, David Kelly and all the others perform.
The current crop of players will want to make their own history.
16-May-11 by Tommy Moran – Connacht PRO