Ciaran Deely is ready for another campaign with London
By Cian O’Connell
The year changes, but the challenges remain. That is simply the way it is in London. Being an inter-county manager can be about adapting and dealing with circumstances. In London, though, it is just different.
Deely served as a selector under the passionate Paul Coggins, a distinguished figure in the London GAA story, but the Wexford native is entering his third year in charge of the Exiles. Questions are constantly posed with quick and sharp answers necessary, but Deely remains enthusiastic about the role.
One of the interesting things about Deely, who works part-time with the QPR Academy, is how he has cultivated and created a coaching team with people from a string of professional clubs.
The latest to join the London set-up is Adie Creamer, who has been involved as a goalkeeping coach in the international game with Guam. With parents from Monaghan and Cavan, Creamer was raised playing for Tir Chonaill Gaels and his affinity with London is deep.
“Adrian Creamer has come in, he played with TCG and coached with TCG he has come in as a goalkeeping coach,” Deely says.
“He has worked in Watford Football Academy for the past 10 years, that was a guy we specifically went after, we really wanted to get him involved. We are trying to flood the group with people with professional sport experience so we can meet all the challenges we have as regards logistics of training and travel and that we can have the best quality of training set-up that we can. We don't have the funding, at all, that other teams have. What we are looking for is a really, small, tight group with experience and who are of a high quality.
“Colm Smith has come in as well helping with S and C, he has been working with Harlequins rugby team and Chelsea Ladies team, he is helping out Ross Bennett, a sports scientist with QPR. Nick Irwin is still there helping out with the medical side, he is a physio with Millwall Football Club.”
Deely has also added Chris Byrne as a selector as they trawl London in search of new talent. “We have a new selector Chris Byrne, who was manager of St Kiernan's for the last number of years,” Deely adds. “They won the County Championship in 2016 so we are trying to add as much quality as we can.
“We still have Joe Coulter from Down, Benny's older brother and Noel Dunning also from Roscommon, who was previously my manager with a club (Kingdow Kerry Gaels) and was previously a London senior football manager.”
Every winter whoever is in charge of London must plan accordingly. Last year both Leitrim and Carlow survived demanding matches in Ruislip. Scalps were nearly taken. Players will be lost due to a plethora of issues, but Deely is fairly satisfied with how the transition has gone.
“In some ways it is the same story in regards there always being a turnover of players,” Deely explains.
“You have lads going back to Ireland, other lads are committing to their careers more in London, a few more want to enjoy the life in London, the social life and all the opportunities it provides young people with. With young Irish people who come over that is understandable and completely fine.
“Then also there are a certain number of lads who have come over new to London and we are trying to integrate them into the squad. There is always issues because they need to be registered and become “London members so they won't be available for the beginning of the League which is obviously a huge challenge for us, a challenge Irish counties wouldn't understand. You have lads coming out training with you, getting involved and you can't use them until halfway through the League.
“That is a difficulty, but this year has been somewhat different in that there is a large number from the squad from last year and the year before who are still with us.
“So it feels like it is becoming more and more like a normal inter-county team and set-up whereby you have lads with you for a number of years and you are looking to build.”
That process is also aided by the fact that London born players are sprinkled around the panel, an area in which Deely has always been keen to promote.
Currently training between Ealing Trailfinders Rugby club, the back pitch at Ruislip, and in Tir Chonaill Gaels grounds in Greenford, Deely believes having a base would be extremely helpful. “London GAA badly needs a full size GAA training pitch, that is floodlit, that can be used throughout the winter,” Deely remarks about a pressing and ongoing problem which exists.
Despite the difficulties Deely ploughs on, eager to ensure London are consistent throughout the League ahead of a Connacht Championship meeting with Sligo in Mayo.
Being involved with QPR, the club he supported as a boy, is stimulating. “I'm working with the Under 16s team mostly and with the Under 18s and 23s at times,” Deely says. “I'm in there part-time and am running my own business as well.
“We have an elite coaches group where we put up information and articles and have discussions. There is some really interesting topics going on at the moment.
“You have people from all over Ireland who are in charge of school teams, clubs, development squads, you have soccer and professional rugby coaches in it so you get some really good information. I'm kept busy with that definitely.” With London Deely’s work continues. Respect has been earned.