Leitrim hierarchy urge GAA to increase the number of games for the smaller counties

Both manager Shane Ward and captain Gary Reynolds cited the need for more games after their heavy defeat to Roscommon

Roscommon shook off their near miss against New York in Brooklyn with an emphatic victory over Leitrim in the Connacht SFC quarter-final on Sunday.

The Rossies ran out 1-21 to 0-11 winners at Carrick-on-Shannon and Leitrim boss Shane Ward lamented his side's lack of composure.

"We contributed to a lot of our own downfall," he explained, "There's no excuse out there for not competing. You get the opportunities so you have to compete and put you r best foot forward. Unfortunately we didn't do that today.

"Our discipline got away from us today. You get that Championship high and the black cards are going to be frequent, but I was a little disappointed because it's not something I expect from my team. I expect them to be hugely disciplined, well-structured and to know what they're doing in the middle of the field at different times. We just didn't do that today.

"Today some of the older players lacked that little bit of drive and discipline, even when things were going our way and we needed to reset, that's when you look to your senior players to lead the line."

When asked if it was the lack of game time that contributed to the heavy defeat, Ward refused to blame Championship structure for the loss but commented on the need for more fixtures.

"I'm not looking for excuses and that's something we in Leitrim will never do, but we need more exposure to Championship games. In our U21s we have one match every year against Mayo, Roscommon or Galway who are usually the eventual All-Ireland champions every year.

"My boys aren't used to preparing for games like this, we've got two the last couple of years with the seniors and just one every year with the U21s. they get less games in five years than a team can get in a whole championship campaign.

"It has to balance up some way. The boys need to be playing more, we need less training and preparation and more games."

Leitrim captain Gary Reynolds echoed these calls and said that games more regularly spread out over the summer is the way to help the smaller counties.

"You hear about the great players from Dublin and Tyrone and all of those counties and you hear about the number of Championship games they've played" he told RTE.

Leitrim captain Gary Reynolds tackles Roscommon's Donie Shine. Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie 

"You hear the amount of Championship games they've played and you realise you've been playing the same length of time as them except you've probably one fifth of the Championship appearances that they've racked up.

"You put all your eggs in the one basket for the Connacht Championship game, you get beaten and then you've a six-week wait.

"It's very hard for a county like ourselves, who are trying to get young lads going in the right direction, when they realise that they're not getting the same string of games other counties there's not that bounce there to lift the panel.

"You have seven League games and then there's a massive, massive hold up. It's disappointing and it's tough. These are young boys, playing at a massive level playing Sigerson Cup, we have a few lads with DCU, and then they're coming to us and having games in the League.

"Then comes Championship, with that intensity, is a massive, massive day, but if you're only getting that once or twice a year, you're not exposed to it often enough and they find it hard to perform at the highest level.

"I found, the only way you improve is games, games, games," he said.