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Barry McNulty encouraged about Leitrim's potential

Leitrim's Barry McNulty pictured at the launch of the Tailteann Cup. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Leitrim's Barry McNulty pictured at the launch of the Tailteann Cup. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

By Cian O’Connell

Something is stirring in Leitrim again. Barry McNulty senses the possibilities that exist for Andy Moran’s developing team.

An efficient start to the Tailteann Cup followed an Allianz Football League promotion. The fact that Leitrim U20s were competition in Connacht adds another layer of excitement.

UCD student McNulty is encouraged by the recent progress. “It has been a very positive year, we set out at the start of the year to get out of Division Four, and we achieved that,” McNulty says.

The Allianz Football League Division Four Final loss to Laois hurt, but Leitrim have responded impressively. “Probably, we'd have liked to have performed a bit better in Croke Park, but we got the main goal, we got out of Division Four,” McNulty adds.

“It is very positive, looking to the future next year, hopefully we can stay in Division Three, that will be the goal. Getting into Division Three was a big thing for us, we'd have liked a better performance here in Croke Park, but we are fairly happy.”

Emerging footballers are being afforded opportunities by Moran. “The Tailteann Cup is a great competition,” McNulty says. “Hopefully we will get a nice run of games, definitely three, and hopefully four or five, if it all goes to plan. You just want to try to build a bit of consistency and a few performances, maybe even blood in a few lads, who can play a part next year for us in Division Three.”

That is crucial for Leitrim in the longer term according to McNulty. “It is great for the future, myself and a few others like Jack Foley, these lads coming in making their debuts, playing consistent minutes which is great,” McNulty remarks.

“You need lads coming fresh in all of the time, to drive on everyone else. It gives everyone a lift, even if they aren't getting all the game time in the world.

“If boys are coming in, training hard, and driving each other on, it sets standards in the team, it keeps everyone on their toes, it brings a freshness. So, that is great.”

Leitrim's Barry McNulty in action during the Allianz Football League Division Four Final against Laois at Croke Park.  Photo by Shauna Clinton/Sportsfile

Leitrim's Barry McNulty in action during the Allianz Football League Division Four Final against Laois at Croke Park.  Photo by Shauna Clinton/Sportsfile

McNulty relished representing a star studded UCD outfit in the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup. “It was a great experience to play in an All-Ireland final at the top level, it doesn't come around too often,” McNulty responds.

“Just to be around that, as an experience and everything with a lot of high profile players playing that day, being around them, and getting 20 minutes in beside them. It brings you on leaps and bounds.

“I'm studying structural engineering, I'm in second year now, I've another three years there all going to plan, if I can finish out a masters.”

Balancing sport and study can be a challenge, but McNulty enjoys being busy. “It is tough enough at times, you could leave UCD at 3 o'clock, you mightn't get back up there again until 12 o'clock,” he explains.

“It is an eight or nine hour thing, it can be hard to strike the balance between study and getting consistent training in. You have to try to find the balance, but it is going alright. It hasn't come back to bite me yet, exams wise or anything, we are getting through it. That is the main thing.”

The Leitrim journey is helped by Moran’s passion for Gaelic Football. McNulty acknowledges Moran’s role for Leitrim, who face Kildare next in the Tailteann Cup. “Andy has a great buzz about him,” McNulty says.

“He is very, very positive man. He really went after that U20s, we had a good side and a good campaign, a positive campaign. A lot of lads there, we will try to blood them into the senior team.

“Six or seven new lads have been in training with us, lads that were part of the U20 panel, they made a real impact on the championship. Definitely, they'll make an impact in the senior team in years to come. It is really positive.

“Like Conor Laverty with Down, Andy being involved has brought something to the county, it is giving us a boost, driving the U20s on. It is really important to get lads performing well, it will have a huge impact on your senior team.”