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Leitrim limbering up for a 'weird' trip to Big Apple

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27 January 2013; Emlyn Mulligan, Leitrim. Connacht FBD League Home Final, Sligo v Leitrim, Markievicz Park, Sligo. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

27 January 2013; Emlyn Mulligan, Leitrim. Connacht FBD League Home Final, Sligo v Leitrim, Markievicz Park, Sligo. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

27 January 2013; Emlyn Mulligan, Leitrim. Connacht FBD League Home Final, Sligo v Leitrim, Markievicz Park, Sligo. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

IT might have escaped your attention, but the All-Ireland SFC starts this weekend.

Far from the smell of freshly cut grass – the Gael's inhalant of choice this weather – the Leitrim footballers will be entering the less predictable environs of Gaelic Park in The Bronx, the Big Apple's very own corner of Gaeldom.

"You're just being totally taken out of your comfort zone over there," Leitrim captain, Emlyn Mulligan – who made his Championship debut against New York in 2008 in Gaelic Park – told the Herald.

"You're flying over there a few days beforehand. The little things like, you're out of your own bed for three nights before the game. The weather. The pitch. You know absolutely nothing about the New York team itself. And then when you land there, it's just a weird atmosphere.

"There are people drinking, and barbecues and music blaring. At one stage, you couldn't nearly see the far goals with the smoke coming from the barbecues. And there were people not even watching the game."

And then there's the unpredictable nature of the match itself.

Leitrim won by 0-17 to 0-6 on Mulligan's debut, St Brigid's newest recruit scoring 10 points on his maiden championship appearance for Leitrim whereas last year, the home side contrived to lose by 3-21 to 0-6 to Sligo.

 

Rumoured

Word of their constitution this year has been slow to lap up on these shores, although former Monaghan former Rory Woods is rumoured to be among their number, while Connie Molloy, brother of Donegal player, Anthony, is their manager.

"Our aim is just to get over there and get the job done. Simple as," Mulligan insists.

"People might have a perception of going over here and it's like a holiday and it's 'only' New York. But I can assure them that it's far from that.

"Being from Leitrim, we would expect that New York would be planning that once every five years, they have the opportunity to play us and they would be taking it as their chance to cause an upset because we're that type of county that people nearly expect to beat.

"We have to be ready for that and we can't be complacent."

Should Leitrim win though, they have Sligo or London for a spot in the Connacht final, with the province's heavy artillery all weighing down the other side of the draw.

The significance isn't lost on Mulligan. "When the draw was made, you have to say to yourself that this is our best opportunity to get to a Connacht final," he admits.

"The fact is, that's the way we are looking at it. We're there for one reason and one reason only and that's to beat New York and get into a Connacht semi-final."

MEATH bounced back from their opening round capitulation to Offaly in this year's Leinster MFC to put themselves into the quarter-finals with a 1-17 to 2-10 victory over Longford in last night's back door match in Páirc Tailteann.

Also though to the last eight are Wexford, who scored a goal and a point in the final five minutes in Enniscorthy, to come from behind to beat Louth.

RAYMOND Wilkinson will miss the rest of Derry's season after the knee injury he sustained in last Sunday's Allianz League Division 2 victory over Westmeath was confirmed as a partial cruciate tear.


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