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Leitrim U-21 football boss Shane Ward salutes his 'committed' troops after surprise victory over Galway

Updated: Monday, 24 Mar 2014 07:31 | Comments

Leitrim's Niall Brady was named Man of the Match (Picture from the Leitrim GAA Twitter page)
Leitrim's Niall Brady was named Man of the Match (Picture from the Leitrim GAA Twitter page)

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For the first time since 1998 Leitrim's U-21 footballers recorded a victory in the Connacht Championship and what made it more notable was that it came against the reigning All-Ireland champions, Galway.

The 0-09 to 0-08 victory in the provincial semi-final in Carrick-on-Shannon was fully-merited and now sets up a date with Roscommon in the decider on 5 April.

Not surprisingly Leitrim manager Shane Ward was full of praise for his troops and in particular highlighted the committed effort from his squad since the start of the year.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport, he said: "We have a committed bunch of lads and together we outlined our targets at the start of the year. 

"We knew we were playing Galway, so we just sat down and put together a gameplan.

"Everybody signed up to the project and worked hard in training. Thankfully we got our rewards on Saturday.

"Obviously it was 1998 since the county last won in the grade but we didn't let that negative history impact on our preparations."

Reflecting on the victory over the Tribesmen, Ward highlighted the ten minutes before half-time as crucial.

"For a lot of the first half we played against a strong breeze and we found it quite difficult to get scores on the board. It took us about 11 or 12 minutes to open our account.

"Galway did go on to build up a 0-05 to 0-01 lead, and didn't want it to stretch out.

"We dug in deep in those 10 minutes and restricted them to just one point, while we got a couple of scores ourselves to get us right back in the game.

"In the second half the wind may not have been as strong, but we certainly made the most of it. It was a huge win for the county."

Ward will now be entrusted with keeping a lid on expectations ahead of the Connacht final and the Ballyshannon native admitted it will be a challenge.

"The biggest job for us now will be to keep the feet on the ground. However, we were back training on Sunday and everybody was present and correct so as to get our focus on the Connacht final.

"The game is in Carrick-on-Shannon and we'll be looking forward to having huge support there to cheer on the lads." 

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