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Leitrim can take bite out of Big Apple



(Gaelic Park, Tomorrow 8.0pm Irish time, 3.0pm local time)

THIS being Leitrim, the bookies aren't entirely dismissing the notion of Mission Impossible coming to pass in the Bronx tomorrow, writes FRANK ROCHE.

By that, we mean Leitrim are rated red-hot 1/8 favourites, as opposed to the completely unbackable odds you might see attached to Mayo or even Galway (who briefly flirted with the prospect of infamous defeat in the Big Apple three years ago).

The old stereotype about New York is that you never quite know what to expect.

That is what travelling managers and players always preach, in cautionary tones, in advance of a usually emphatic victory ... and Leitrim skipper Emlyn Mulligan (above) was speaking in similar vein this week.


"You're just being totally taken out of your comfort zone," said the team's top-scoring talisman, highlighting the flight, the weather, Gaelic Park's 3G pitch, and the "weird atmosphere" created by fans who are drinking and cooking barbecues, some of them not even watching the match.

Oh yeah, the match. While Mulligan pointed out that "you know absolutely nothing about the New York team itself", it has subsequently been confirmed that Rory Woods – of former Monaghan fame – will line out at full-forward for the Exiles.

They are managed by Connie Molloy, brother of Donegal legend Anthony, and have just two survivors from last year's clash with Sligo, Molloy's son CJ at midfield and corner-back Paul Lambe.

Such rates of attrition are rarely a good thing ... except when the aforementioned Sligo game ended in a 3-21 to 0-6 mauling. Five years ago, New York lost to Leitrim by a more respectable 0-17 to 0-6. Leitrim endured an up-and-down Division Four after the early-season promise of historic FBD League glory, but their hosts will do well to keep the margin in single-digits, especially if Mulligan brings his scoring boots.

ODDS: New York 8/1, Draw 20/1, Leitrim 1/20

VERDICT: Leitrim