Rooney quietly confident Sligo minors can end 47-year wait
Published 17/07/2015 | 02:30
"When we get on the bus on Sunday, it'll be the same as going to a disco in town. There'll be the same joviality about it and that's important."
Aidan Rooney has his own unique way of doing things but it's one that all of his Sligo minor players have bought into.
It has been 61 years since the Sligo minors and seniors competed in a Connacht final together, and although Rooney is eager for his side to win their first title in 47 against Galway on Sunday, he is just as concerned with the bigger picture.
"The expectation is the same as it is for the senior team but I've always protected my players. They're young lads and it's important to remember that," Rooney explained.
"The expectation levels may be the same but the pressure is different. We've always taken it on a game by game basis so for us, Sunday is just another game.
"If we lose, it's not the end of the world. I am always keen for my players to know that and not feel like they have to win.
"We're not going to get bogged down on the pressure of the game because there's enough pressures outside of football."
Having won the Connacht title in 1994 with Leitrim, Rooney knows what it's like to taste success, and having started his journey with the current Sligo minor side in 2011, he believes that his charges are capable of causing an upset.
"The lads know that they can come to us for advice and I think they're comfortable doing that but they're not going to win a Connacht title on Sunday because Aidan Rooney is managing them. It'll be down to what they put in," he said.
"When we started this process we told the players that if they put in the work, the success would follow."
For Rooney, preparing his young players for life outside of football is just as important as bridging the gap to senior level.
Integrity is the core value that he tries to instil in them and he regularly consults parents in a bid to keep the lines of communication open.
On Sunday, they will have a chance to "continue the upward curve" and it is one they are ready to take.
"The effect the lads can have on people's lives in Sligo is important. What they do on the pitch can take people's minds off other things they have going on in their lives," Rooney maintained.
"They have a power and with that comes responsibility by default and the players are aware of that and comfortable with it.
"We want them to play to a level that's acceptable and if we can get four or five to play above that, then we'll have a chance."