Focus is only on Antrim says Martin

The past is definitely the past according to Leitrim selector Martin McGowan who stresses that Leitrim are focused solely on next Sundays massive Allianz League Division Four show-down with second placed Antrim in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada at 2.30 pm.

The Allen Gaels clubman is the local member of the new management team but he is definitely working from the same script as his colleagues when he stresses that Antrim is the only thing Leitrim are concentrating on at the moment.

"Were most definitely looking forward to it," Martin told the Observer, "It is another game for us and hopefully another step on the road to trying to win promotion.

"Everybody would have been looking at Antrim, Sligo and Wicklow as the main teams in the Division but we will be looking on Antrim as another team we are trying to beat. We will focus on the game in front of us and that is all and hopefully, that will see us through."

The value of that approach is two-fold – it concentrates the minds on the challenge of the Saffron men and immediately reminds everyone that the Sligo and Carlow results are now nothing but history.

"The games are coming hard and fast in the coming weeks but you cant allow your mind to wander, your focus has to be on the next game and until 4 pm next Sunday evening, our total focus will be on Antrim.

"No doubt about it, the result against Sligo was very disappointing for the players and us as a management group but we bounced back in an impressive fashion against Carlow and got the victory. And I think the scoreline against Carlow was a poor reflection of our dominance on the day.

It was important to get a game quickly after the loss to Sligo but perhaps if we had the Carlow game when it was scheduled, we wouldnt have been as sluggish and we would have gone into the game in a better frame of mind – it works both ways.

"If were going to be in with a chance of promotion, we need to be taking our chances but the last day is gone. We will just concentrate on winning the game in front of us and the Sligo game and the Carlow game are gone now, they are in the past."

While acknowledging that the amount of missed chances in the Carlow game was was a concern, Martin has obviously inherited the positive out-look of his late father, Tony, when he takes a different view-point on those misses – "While we would be concerned about the amount of chances we missed against Carlow, Id more be concerned if we werent creating the chances."

Martin also believes that the new set-up has reinvigorated the County side, creating far more competition for places and rising standards as a result – "In the past, the Leitrim team might have been picked from a pool of 18 to 20 players but already we have used 26 players this year and we have lots of other guys in contention for a place on the team.

"The hardest thing is picking a panel of 24 for match days, whatever about the first 15. There is great competition in training and as long as we keep that competitionÓgoing, it will bring us on a lot.

"At this time of the year, you settle into a routine.
A lot of football is establishing good routines and it is important to set down standards that breath competition into training and that augers well for match days. A few of the lads are carrying knocks from the League games. Ray Cox had a bit of a hamstring worry but there is nothing serious and hopefully, we will have a clean bill of health.

Asked if the reality of being a selector for the County Senior team lived up to his own expectations, Martin said “It is every bit as much of a thrill as I expected it to be, maybe even more so. It is a great thrill for me to be involved with the Leitrim Senior team and a great honour especially to work with two men as committed and passionate as Mickey Moran and John Morrison.

“They have a great way of dealing with the players and you learn so much from them. If you look at the fact that they only get to pick 15 players for each game, it’s a great compliment to Mickey & John that they are still getting a full compliment of players turning out for every training sesssion, I think that speaks volumes for the impact they have had.”

As for a prediction, Martin said “You have to be confident, particularly when you are playing at home. We are always very difficult to beat in Carrick but we have to establish a good record of getting the wins as we did against Carlow.

“And if we continue in that same vein of form, we will have a very good chance. It is not going to be easy but I’d be confident that we can get a result if we work as hard as we did against Carlow."




This full report is available thanks to John Connolly  for the Leitrim Observer
– its available in this weeks edition of the Observer and online here




06-Mar-09 by John Connolly –