Hyland expects Leitrim to thrive in Division Three
By John Harrington
Leitrim manager Terry Hyland is confident his young team won’t just survive in Division 3 of the Allianz Football League next year, but thrive.
They were beaten by a cuter and more clinical Derry in Saturday’s Allianz Football League Division Four Final, but Hyland believes the experience will stand to them going forward.
“It'll be immense to them because to be fair to them they've never been up at this level before,” said Hyland.
“It'll give them that little boost and that bit of confidence. I think they actually have the ability to come back here next year if they apply themselves and work hard.
“I've said that to the them in the dressing-room and I've no problem saying it publicly because I think there's an awful lot more in these lads.”
Leitrim played some sparkling attacking football in the first half in particular and displayed great spirit throughout, but a lot of their good work was undone by poor shooting.
They kicked nine wides in the first half, 13 in total, and in the final reckoning that sort of profligacy hurt them badly.
“Our biggest problem in the first-half was the number of wides we kicked,” admitted Hyland.
“Maybe we were shooting a little bit on sight when we should have really steadied the ship and said, 'let's make sure of this score'.
“Perhaps that's a little bit of inexperience but they'll improve on the back of that.
“I do think the wides ultimately killed us, yes. You can look at the ratio of wides from both sides, it's not hard to work it out.
“I keep telling the lads, we have statisticians and experts but the biggest statistic is the scoreboard, if you don't keep that right it doesn't matter about the rest of them.”
Leitrim started the match strongly and were 0-7 to 0-4 ahead by the 23rd minute.
But they didn’t score again in the first half as Derry kicked six unanswered points from there to the break in what was the most decisive phase of the match.
“I suppose when we look back on it, we probably lost our kick-outs just before half-time and we handed them possession,” said Hyland.
“We probably got a little bit shall we say lazy on the field, we didn't make the runs to create the openings and those things happen in games.
“Maybe it's a little bit of a lack of experience and maybe someone just standing up and taking direction on the field, that'll come to them.”
Next up for Leitrim is the Connacht SFC quarter-final against Roscommon on May 12, and Hyland is optimistic about their prospects of pulling off a shock in that match.
“It doesn't intimidate us no, to be honest with you,” he said. We have to prepare ourselves as a group and it doesn't really matter who you're playing, if you prepare properly and if you go out in the right frame of mind, it doesn't really matter who the opposition is.
“We're wearing jerseys the same as everyone else.”
Leitrim supporters don’t need much encouragement to get fired up for a championship clash with Roscommon, but the feel-good vibes from their team’s promotion to Division Three should guarantee they’ll travel to Hyde Park in even greater numbers than usual for that match.
“Well that's it, the people of Leitrim have probably got a bit more belief behind their team now and they're backing them and they will come out in numbers,” said Hyland.
“To me, it's actually like being involved in a big strong club.
“There's a wonderful togetherness, even the supporters, never mind the players, it's a little bit different to some of the bigger counties when you're drawing lads from different areas and you have maybe a little bit more of the superstars than we have in Leitrim.
“As a group that's bonded together, it's a privilege to work with them.”