Promotion from Division IV of the 2011 Allianz National Football League was always going to be a dog-fight to the finish.
Leitrim, Clare, Fermanagh, Carlow, Longford and Roscommon would all have fancied their chances, with the pundits predicting that the Connacht Champions would carry the favourites tag – the other five would be even money.
There was some talk that London might make an impression, especially with many players having recently emigrated there, while Kilkenny were given little chance of offering any kind of a serious challenge.
Indeed, London did rattle a few cages, but did not have the power to maintain it to the end against stronger opposition – the influx of players to the city seems to have helped the clubs more than the county side, but no doubt they will eventually don the county jersey and make a bigger mark in next years Allianz League.
Kilkenny were on a hiding to nothing, but we must admire the efforts of their players who gave of their best despite being aware of their eventual position on the League table. The side was on a hiding to nothing as teams attempted to score at will and up the "scores for" in case of mathematical analysis in the event of finishing on level points. It could be that tight at the top.
Leitrim finished on six points, with victories over Clare, Kilkenny and Fermanagh. It could have been more. Had the London match not been postponed we would have expected to gain another two, but in the end it didnt matter, we had fallen short along the way.
Apart from a 3-18 shooting spree against Kilkenny, our Scóring rate just wasnt high enough — and a few more scores would have made such a difference — one point defeats are especially heartbreaking, as we had against Longford (when hopes were still riding high) and also against Roscommon, though the die had been cast at that stage.
Leaving out the Kilkenny match, our Scóring rate was 0-12, 0-11, 0-10, 0-10,
0-15 and 1-10, a total of 1 goal and 68 points or a game average of less than 12 points – Scórcely enough to be ahead at the finish. And just one goal from those six games meant there was little buzz around the square – and nothing can lift a team and supporters more than to see the net rattling.
But we defended well too, with a total against us of 4-68, or just over a 13 point average. So, we were close.
Close calls dont win matches though, so one thing our team needs is to up the Scóring rate. There were many positives – an obvious game plan, swift passing movements, tight defending, spirited fight-backs, whole team effort, heart-warming individual performances, shrewd switches, good use of panel and great pride in the county jersey.
Our seven league encounters will be well analysed by Team Manager Mickey Moran, selectors Brian Breen and martin McGowan and the back-up team as we head toeards a Connacht Championship clash with Sligo.
Thats what matters now, the Allianz League is over for us for another year, so, let us get our shooting boots right and anything can happen.
15-Apr-11 by Leitrim GAA