We hung in and never gave up
First of all I'm delighted to be back writing in the Champion and I suppose for me it's all about giving a true insight into what really happens within the Sligo senior footballers camp to those that follow us with such passion. So the National League is upon us and our first game was against Armagh.
They are the bookies' favourites to get back into Division 2 this year and rightly so.
They had a very good pre-season by winning the Ó Fiaich Cup before Christmas and winning three out of their four games in the McKenna Cup.
We had a decent run in the FBD League ourselves though so we were quietly confident going into this game. Like any sport, luck is a key ingredient needed to get you over the line.
From last Wednesday it was certainly not on our side. First of all I received a call from Cian Breheny saying he had pulled his hamstring with the college - and people wonder why I love the lads playing college football! Then on Thursday evening as I was on my way home from work I received a call from Niall Murphy, who was struggling with the flu.
To compound matters, he had also picked up a tummy bug. So I contacted our doctor, Declan Clinton and he worked his magic. By Sunday, Niall had lost nine pounds in weight and was probably operating at round 50% of his optimum ability but he still returned three points from play.
His commitment to Sligo is an example to all.
Meanwhile, Johnny Kelly, who lined out at wing-forward, pulled his hamstring just before the Leitrim game in the FBD. He left no stone unturned to make sure he was available for selection for his first League game. This is a man who is doing his masters in UCD but like Niall, and the rest of the lads on this panel, Sligo is his priority, before anything else.
He played 50 minutes and to be honest, we pushed the boat out at that. Fatigue was setting in on Johnny after his excellent first half and that is when the danger increases of picking up another injury or suffering a recurrence of the original one. So that is why he was taken off, rather than us thinking he wasn't playing well. He was but it's a long year ahead and we want Johnny for the next day. As for the game itself, we only played only in patches. Defensively we were solid. They got two goal chances and scored both, but Criostóir Davey was clearly fouled in the build-up to the second. I can only presume that the ref's view was blocked. In fairness, it was very well-taken but it should never have been allowed. So yes, we got a penalty that is not normally given but in fairness to the referee he was very consistent with that particular foul all throughout the game. If you're wondering what happened, Stephen Coen was being held inside the penalty area when we were attacking, so that is why it was awarded. It still had to be converted though and oblivious to any pressure, up stepped Adrian Marren to blast it home. It's funny, this wasn't Adrian's best game for Sligo but he still managed to score 1-6. Adrian Marren is immaculate in training and is so driven on and off the field to make sure he gets the best from himself. This is the reason why he is one of the best forwards in the country. Another Adrian was also responsible for the comeback that earned us a valuable point and that was our midfielder Adrian McIntyre. Ado kicked a great point and lorded midfield for the last 15 minutes when it was really needed.
Overall we hung in and never gave up and this gave us the platform to be within striking distance when that late opportunity presented itself.
And we were good enough to take it.
Up next is Tipperary in Thurles and we will certainly hope to bring these fighting and never-say-die qualities with us on Sunday.
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