New York New York
Yes, it’s New York on the double for Leitrim this year. The wave of emotion that greeted the FBD Connacht League Final victory on Sunday reverberated across the Atlantic right to the Big Apple and phone lines and skype were busy — in one direction with congrats to all concerned, and in the other with queries about spare beds in some long lost cousin’s house for a weekend in May and another in October. Manhattan, the Bronx, Yonkers, Queens, Staten Island, anywhere within reasonable striking distance of GaelicPark. The Gathering may be enticing our loved ones to travel back to Ireland in 2013, but loads of us will be spilling West also.
What a change to have the boys in green and gold as the headliners in all local and national news and sports bulletins on Sunday evening and all day Monday. Our players deserve it, as do Brian Breen and George Dugdale, who incidentally were part of the last Leitrim senior side to get their hands on silverware back in 1994; as does strength and conditioning coach Ollie Cummings; as do the members of the backroom team, all of whom play vital roles; as do County Chairman Joe Flynn, Secretary Diarmuid Sweeney and all of our top-class county officers; as do probably the most loyal GAA followers of any county in the country. Supporters did not make a sudden appearance in Markievicz Park because the smell of a final was in the air, for they were in Elphin on a shivering cold day for the first round against the Rossies; were in Ballinamore for a long awaited other shot at Mayo and were back again on the following Sunday for the clincher against GMIT. One thing Leitrim can always be assured of, is support.
Most of the happy faces in Markievicz were also in the Hyde for the Connacht Championship victory nineteen years ago and were also there in the Hyde for the All Ireland B Championship victory (also over Sligo) four years earlier and while none of them could have been in Tuam for the 1927 Connacht title, no doubt plenty of their parents, uncles, aunts and cousins were.
Funnily enough, the seeds for Sunday’s victory were probably sown last June as the players trooped off the field in Castlebar, after one of the real drubbings of the Championship against Mayo. Every man in a Leitrim jersey that day must have sworn to himself that this would never happen again, he would do whatever it took to bring about a turnaround. And turn around it did, as we all remember in an all hands on deck rousing victory over a fancied Wicklow side in the Qualifiers and in an agonisingly close call against Laois, who subsequently scored the life out of the All Ireland champions the Dubs in Croke Park. The year had finished for the players on an upbeat note and they were determined to carry that into 2013.
This they have done in real style, so hats off to every single member of the panel and particular praise to our Joint Team Managers. A happy supporter was heard singing
“Barney’s winning matches
George is winning games “
as he happily made his way back to his car for a delighted journey home from Sligo. Probably today he is singing the Frank Sinatra hit New York New York!
28-Jan-13 by Tommy Moran