Going for a Double
It all starts early Saturday morning on Carrick on Shannon Golf Course, when the Leitrim Supporters tee off in the fund-raising Golf Classic. Well, Friday evening really, as golfers descend on the town and the county to swing and to support the green and gold. Mike Carty is travelling from New York and has former DublinÓgreats like Tony Hanahoe and Brian Mullins lined up for his team, while Barry Donnellan, Joe Leydon and Mike Feeney will have rounded up every swinger around Dublin to play for the Leitrim cause. They will be joined by a plethora of home based golfers, with some teams even featuring a few from the enemy camp across the bridge.
The Classic will Scórcely decide either of the games on Sunday as we go for a double, but it will certainly show both teams and their mentors that we are fully behind them. It’s nice for the players to know that there is great good will towards them. Of course it is also important that supporters flock to the Hyde in big numbers — as the sloganÓgoes “Nothing beats being there”.
The Junior team has qualified for the Connacht Final, almost unnoticed by the wider GAA world. But defeating Galway in the semi-final was no mean feat, especially when we realise the Leitrim has come out top against the Tribesmen this year in Senior, Under 21, Minor and Junior — surely the makings of a six marker at some future GAA Quiz.
Manager Martin McGowan and selectors Jimmy Holohan and Thomas Keenan have blended together quite a formidable side, with some players who would not be one bit out of place in the senior clash against Roscommon. Opponents Sligo have done well at this grade in recent years and will be tough opposition, but it is expected that Leitrim will be just too strong for them and get the green and gold roar going early in Hyde Park. Throw in is at 1pm, so get there on time.
Our seniors are quoted as 1000 to 1 to win the All Ireland, the Rossies are priced a bit better. But neither side will be thinking about Paddy Power or his odds when they tear from the dressing room in the corner to the welcoming cheers from all sections of the ground. One thing is certain, Leitrim have no fears of Roscommon, nor have they any fears of playing in Hyde Park, it is almost considered a home ground. Many minds will be thinking back almost twenty years on Sunday to the day that Declan Darcy and 1927 Captain Tom Gannon were presented with the Nestor Cup in front of the stand and in front of proud hearts and tear filled eyes, with victory over Mayo, after already defeating Galway and Roscommon on the way. Others will be reminiscing about the turn of the Millennium, when there was a green and gold pitch invasion and the Rossies stood there, dumbfounded.
Time brings changes and we have to look at the cold hard facts. Going on form in the Allianz League, Roscommon have to be acknowledged as favourites. But then they were the red hot tip in the FBD Connacht League and we can remember what happened. So it is all to play for. Our last championship game in this venue is one we have to banish from our thoughts. That was last year when we bowed out in the replay against London — though Leitrim did stage one of the greatest fight-backs of the 2013 championship in the second half,
That’s the sort of performance we have to produce on Sunday and Sean Hagan, his backroom team and the players have done everything possible in preparation for this eagerly-awaited clash.
The build-up to Sunday among supporters will contain the usual “Will ye have fifteen?”, especially along the run of the Shannon from Dowra to Rooskey; the Hens and Stags in Carrick on Saturday night will wonder what all the hulabaloo is about; some houses will fly both the Leitrim and Roscommon colours (at least we inter-marry) and any sensible publican will do likewise, to pull in the punters.
Going back to 1994, when Leitrim reached Croke Park, we had no better supporters than the Rossies; likewise in the last few weeks all of Leitrim were hoping for an Under 21 title for Roscommon. But Sunday is different —- and this is one of the things that makes the GAA what it is.
So let the green and gold army be on the march early and staying till the fat lady sings. The double would really give us something to shout about.
14-May-14 by Leitrim GAA