Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Get ready for hot welcome, says former Leitrim manager John Morrison

Assistant manager John Morrison

Former Leitrim joint manager John Morrison believes his native county of Armagh should steel themselves for what he feels will be "a hot reception" when they visit Carrick-on-Shannon for Saturday's vital All-Ireland football qualifier.

Morrison may be Armagh through and through – he played with considerable distinction for the Harps club and has considerable managerial experience at club and county level – but he gave his heart to Leitrim in tandem with Mickey Moran from 2008 until 2010 when he severed his connection with the Connacht county leaving Moran to pursue a solo course.

Leitrim may not quite have hit the high spots under their command but Morrison is in no doubt that in one respect the county can hold its own with the best of them.

"Leitrim fans are passionate about their football," insists Morrison.

"The county has one of the smallest populations in the country as a whole but when their followers get packed into the Carrick-on-Shannon venue they can certainly make their voices heard.

"Armagh will certainly know that they are on opposition soil and I think that the Leitrim fans can give their side a big lift."

Leitrim will certainly require a psychological boost following their Connacht semi-final defeat to London earlier this month in one of the big upsets of the championship season to date.

Injuries undermined Leitrim's bid to reach the final and Morrison is adamant that they will keen to gain redemption down the qualifier route.

"Leitrim has only a small base of players from which to choose but they nonetheless have some quality performers," warns Morrison.

"People like Emlyn Mulligan, Paddy Maguire and others can hold their own in any company. Obviously Leitrim has been hit very hard by emigration and that hasn't helped matters but Armagh will do well to take things very carefully.

"Leitrim fans are as passionate as those from Donegal, Tyrone, Kerry or any other county and they will want to raise the roof if their team can show they are able to match Armagh."

Leitrim endured an indifferent league campaign and their shock Connacht exit stunned the county but has if anything hardened resolve to maximise the opportunity that the qualifiers presents.

Armagh beat Wicklow by 2-21 to 0-2 in the first round of the qualifiers but manager Paul Grimley has been doing his homework on Leitrim.

"I have been studying the team and obviously I take on board what John Morrison and other people in the know are saying. We have all seen that while the championship overall has thrown up some lop-sided games, it nonetheless has the capacity to unleash a few shocks and we certainly don't want to fall down," states Grimley.

Finian Moriarty, Stefan Campbell, Brian Mallon, Johnny Hanratty and Rory Grugan, all of whom came on as substitutes against Wicklow, are currently pressing for starting places in Saturday's tie.

"Our squad has been trimmed a bit but there is tremendous enthusiasm and commitment among the players. The win over Wicklow has helped to put us back on track and the aim now is to extend our championship season for as long as possible," adds Grimley.

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