Win, lose or draw, I stand by decision to drop quartet, insists Breen
BARNEY Breen remains bullish that Leitrim's management has done the right thing in dropping four of their players ahead of Sunday's Connacht SF semi-final against London.
The effect of that dramatic disciplinary action was immediately seen in yesterday's team announcement.
A combination of injuries and players lost through the county's disciplinary controversy has seen Leitrim change a third of the team that walloped New York seven weeks ago, with their front trio and goalkeeper the only unchanged lines of the team.
Of the four players who were dropped, only Wayne McKeon and Tomas Beirne started against New York and they are replaced by Barry Prior and Brendan Brennan at wing-back and midfield respectively.
But with corner-back Paddy Maguire since lost to a dislocated ankle and Gerry Hickey to a torn hamstring, they have also had to be replaced.
Gary Reynolds moves from centre-back to replace Maguire at corner-back and his central defensive role is taken up by ex-Longford senior Enda Williams.
Paddy McGowan comes in for Hickey at left half-forward and Leitrim have made a change at full-back too, where Ciaran Egan has replaced Fabian McMorrow.
Breen and his co-manager George Dugdale remain adamant over their decision to drop McKeon, Beirne, his brother Colm and Shane Moran from their squad.
It has divided opinion in the county, where some believe that disciplining the players privately with a fine or one-game ban, would have been sufficient, given the numerical disadvantage that Leitrim have compared to bigger counties. But Breen has remained resolute. "Regardless of the result, it's still the right decision."
And Dugdale has insisted that it has not distracted the rest of their players from Sunday's potential banana-skin, saying, "There is no focus issues involved. Everyone is 100pc focused on London."
Exiles boss and Roscommon native Paul Coggins has beefed up the side that shocked Sligo and pulled off what was only their second championship victory and first in 36 years.
Paul Geraghty, the former Galway senior, who missed most of London's early season due to a lengthy suspension, came off the bench against Sligo, but is now back starting at full-forward at the expense of Ciaran McCallion.
London's only other change is Philip Butler in at right corner-back in place of Kevin Lynham.
Leitrim (SF v London) – C McCrann; A Wynne, C Egan, G Reynolds; D Beck, E Williams, B Prior; D Sweeney, B Brennan; P Brennan, E Mulligan, P McGowan; K Conlon, J Glancy, R Lowe.
London (SF) – D Traynor; P Butler, S Curran, D McGreevey; S Hannon, S Mulligan, T Gaughan; M Gottsche, C Doyle; G Crowley, L Mulvey, B Mitchell; P McGoldrick, P Geraghty, C Magee.