U21 Preview with Liam Higgins
Ahead of this Saturdays Connacht Under 21 Championship Semi-Final against Sligo, Leitrim Manager Liam Higgins has acknowledged that his charges have a good chance of progressing, but also added a word of caution saying "Sligo will be thinking the same thing."
The chance to make a rare appearance in a Provincial Final at this grade increased when Roscommon, Galway and Mayo were drawn on the same side of the draw, with Mayo defeating the Tribesmen last Saturday.
With the big guns all battling each other on that side, Sligo and Leitrim will both fancy their chances – "We have a good chance. Its a home draw and we will be hoping to have a good crowd to support the team.
"Its a good draw for both sides and if we perform to our ability I think we have a good chance," said Liam who immediately warned against complacency by adding "Sligo will be thinking the same."
Approaching the game Liam reported no major injury concerns with the exception of Fergal Earley who will be out for a few months with a knee injury.
When asked about the mood in the camp ahead of the big game, Liam was upbeat revealing "its good, were very happy with how its going in training. Were coming in to good shape and well just be keeping things fresh this week."
For the clash with Sligo, Liam will have three senior panelists at his disposal, namely Tomas Beirne, David OConnor & Philip Farrelly.
Beirne & OConnor have been central to Mickey Morans plans to date while goalkeeper Farrelly was handed a start in Leitrims FBD victory over Sligo in January.
Leitrim suffered a heavy defeat against Roscommon in the Hastings Cup Final but stress that they were not that far ahead in their preparations at that point.
Sligo were also in pre-season action, easily defeating Donegal in the North West Final, and they also boast a few members of the Senior team that walloped Leitrim in the National League.
At Minor level, Leitrim lost heavily three years ago to Mayo but they will be confident of a better showing although the divided attention of Beirne and OConnor may be a hindrence with a National League clash with Waterford next Sunday.
Leitrim showed great work-rate and spirit in their Hastings Cup outings but they will need big performances from Conor Sheridan, Ray Mulvey, Wayne McKeon and, of course, OConnor & Beirne if they are to advance to a Connacht Final.
Leitrim havent registered a win at this grade since 1998 but with home advantage, maybe next Saturday will also see them reach their first final since that year also.
This full report is available thanks to the Leitrim Observer
– it s available in this weeks edition of the Observer and online here
19-Mar-09 by LeitrimObserver.ie