Terry Hyland hopeful Leitrim can develop further
By Cian O'Connell
It was a spring loaded with promise for Leitrim, but manager Terry Hyland is hopeful that it is merely the start of an interesting adventure.
Earning promotion into Division Three of the Allianz Football League and an appearance at Croke Park ensured Leitrum received an injection of confidence and momentum.
Now the next challenge is a trip to Dr Hyde Park for a Connacht Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final against Roscommon.
Hyland believes that further strides can be made in the coming months and years by a developing Leitrim outfit.
“I do and I base that on what I see at training and base that on the ability of the players that I’m looking at and I base it on that we are still making a lot of mistakes and doing a lot of things wrong," Hyland says.
"I think once you identify those things and rectify those, you’re going to get improvement."
Is there a difference between managing his native Cavan and Leitrim for Hyland? “Well to be fair, there is," Hyland replies.
"Leitrim, to me, are probably like a large club. Their population base is small, they’re all kind of in around Carrick, there’s not much travelling distance. They’re basically like a big club, they’re a big community, for want of a better way of putting it.
"Their love of football is great, but as regards developing them as a team and bringing them on forward, they’re probably like every other county. They’re probably struggling with clubs not being competitive outside their county and that kind of stuff. Aughawillan would have won the last couple of Championships and maybe struggled a bit in Connacht when they come out that far. It’s about getting that whole level to come up."
Despite the demanding challenges Hyland is impressed with how Leitrim officials are trying to raise the standard.
"I think, to be fair, Leitrim County Board have employed three new coaches and they are working on that and they’re working on their underage structures," Hyland states.
"You can see even from an S&C viewpoint, Leitrim have come on in the last 18 months but you’re going out against a Roscommon or a Mayo or a Galway and these guys are working maybe six and seven years into their cycles of where they are with all that."
There was something about Leitrim which struck Hyland, who is thoroughly enjoying his stint in charge.
"I just like working with young lads, I like to see lads develop," Hyland comments. "Why Leitrim? Someone said to me, why not? I’ve been asked this question in different forums with the GAA down through the years and I said look it, Leitrim, I think small doesn’t make you weak.
"I think small can be a nucleus for getting stronger, but you must put in the resources with them to make them stronger. I felt that if I was asked, it was very easy for me to say no, but then that would be walking away from what I believed in and I believed that if I could bring something to them they would get better and they would get better with a little bit of organisation.
"I Just looked at the methods of coaching that we could bring them on. That little of expertise that I would have got with Cavan that would bring an improvement. Now I didn't expect to get it in day one or year one, but we have got it and it showed there is a lot more on the graph for Leitrim if they got it."
Leitrim are beginning to believe, but Hyland wasn't overly surprised about just how much a successful League campaign meant to people from the county living at home and abroad.
"If you are involved with a football club and you win a Junior Championship, it brings its own emotion so it doesn't really matter what level you are competing at provided you think you can win and compete at that and Leitrim are no different," Hyland replies.
"I happened to be at a few functions before Christmas in New York and I was at a Cavan one and a Leitrim one on the same night and I looked at the age profile of the Cavan function, probably averaging 65/70, went to the Leitrim one and the age profile was probably 25 to 30, which is a problem for Leitrim because they are exporting a lot of their people.
"There are a lot of people over there who are going well who want to come back and be involved with their team when they are going well and be a part of that."
The Leitrim journey continues.