Andy Moran discussed the new dome pitch in Connacht after his Leitrim team lost to Sligo in preseason football.
Preseason football games aren't interesting.
With the league often serving as a preseason for the Championship, preseason games are overkill for fans and players alike. But on this occasion there were multiple reasons to be interested. Former Mayo forward Andy Moran is in charge of Leitrim. Moran is one half of OTB's The Football Pod with Paddy and Andy.
And Leitrim were playing the first game in Connacht's new dome pitch against Sligo.
The NUIG Connacht GAA Air Dome is in Bekan, County Mayo. It looks more like something that belongs in American Football than the GAA. But it had the desired results. Leitrim and Sligo combined to score 2-38 in the game. The dome neutralized the weather conditions so there was no wet ball to worry about or wind to adjust against.
Moran spoke after the game and was excited about the scoring from his forwards.
"We've got really good forwards," Moran said.
"We've a really nice set of forwards. If them guys are moving and working hard for each other, there's no reason why we can't [win games]. We over-relied on Keith there at the start of the game, but then Ryan started moving, Dara Rooney started moving...That's what we're trying to do.
"It's not just about kicking the ball over the bar, there's more facets to the game."
Since he's taking over a new team for the first time at this level, these early games are very important for Leitrim's new manager. Moran is hoping to play as many preseason games as possible before they open their league campaign with two tough opponents. Building up momentum will be important for a county that will likely be overmatched.
But Moran is optimistic after a good start.
"That's the important thing about playing matches. You can go away now to assess, see what worked, see what didn't work. And then move it from there. How close are we? That's hard to tell. We'll know more now when we start off. We've a really tough opening to the league. The Ulster Champions from 2020 at the start at home...we have Tipperary as well, they're our first two games in the league.
"We'll go away, we'll work and we'll get a few challenge matches."
Moran is happy with how far his team have come so far.
"In terms of the progress the boys have made, the training they've done over the last six or eight weeks. Absolutely amazing. They'll do nothing but improve from that."
The dome pitch is not just a novelty. It will be important for Connacht football moving forward. Similar to how Northern Hemisphere rugby teams struggle against Southern Hemisphere rugby teams because of the conditions, Connacht teams now can better prepare for Croke Park in the summer.
Moran understands that not having to adjust to wind and rain is in itself an adjustment.
"You look at the scoreline, it's 1-21 to 1-17. Usually in an FBD league game it's 9-8, 10-9 or 11-10. It's dogged and it's rough weather outside. Then you come in here to a facility like this and it's mindblowing. How the play can move, how quickly it came move. You're on about Connacht teams beaten in Croke Park at the later end of the season, the speed the ball moves on this is so exciting.
"It's going to be a huge advantage moving forward."
OTB AM in association with Gillette.