Leitrims spirit and character were the determining factors in last Sundays victory over Wicklow according to Manager Mickey Moran who succinctly summed it up with "A day like that comes down to character."
Speaking after an exciting finale, Mickey told the Observer "A day like that comes down to character. We can do so much but it is getting the lads to produce that on the pitch on a consistent basis. We knew it was always there and that was what won it today and were absolutely delighted.
"It was a great win in the end, we played very well in the first half but we didnt take the scores which was a bit worrying. But as I said at halftime, this was the first time we went in leading at halftime and we wanted to stay ahead.
"The questions were asked in the second half and Wicklow put it up to us but I think the lads responded and showed the great heart and character that is there. Then they decided to open up and they showed great touches and flair in coming back and eking out that victory, especially the last score."
The management team were also rewarded by the decision to stick with Ray Cox as the Annaduff man scored four points after an off-day against Antrim – "You have to be loyal to lads, when somebody goes on and it goes well for him.
"It didnt go well for Ray the last day but you have to have a bit of faith, you just cant diScórd somebody like that. We said go out there and prove it and it sets a lad up for a good game."
Mickey also emphasised the importance of the team ethic, particularly as Leitrim were without top scorer and talisman Emlyn Mulligan – "The match really was for Emlyn. Emlyn has the shingles, it was an honest decision by him and by the management.
"He could have given us 20 minutes near the end but it mightnt have worked out. This shingles leaves a loss of energy. At the start, I told the lads that Emlyn carried us with his frees and his scores and it was up to us to carry him.
"We made substitutions when lads were tiring and we needed that. But as I told the lads at the end of the match, it was the 15 lads starting or the subs who came on, it was all the other lads who werent in the 24.
"They are the lads at training, pushing them on. There is great spirit.I told them if they are patient, theyll get their chance and if they are patient, theyll get support from us."
Moran also professed that he didnt hear vocal criticism from the stands during the previous match against Antrim – "I didnt hear any and Ive no more grey hairs. Were loving every minute of it, criticism and all and I didnt hear any criticism."
And Moran returned to the theme of attitude as they prepare for the final three matches of the season – "We just have to work on the mental attitude, were as good as anyone. Were not better than anyone, but we are as good as anyone. Its not arrogance, just a pride in your county and take that belief in. I think we saw it out there today.
"Its a big win but at the end of the day, everybody talks about this might happen and that might happen but nothing will happen unless you win your games. Antrim need to be beaten or Sligo need to be beaten twice.
Were still playing catch-up but were just doing our bit, taking it one match at a time. Next Sunday against Waterford is a hard one, Waterford kicked something like 13 chances wide. Theyre be smarting and itll be a tough test for us.
"You can do nothing about other results but your own to be in with a chance. It is precariously balanced," concluded Mickey.
This full report is available thanks to John Connolly for the Leitrim Observer
– it s available in this weeks
19-Mar-09 by John Connolly – LeitrimObserver.ie