Liam Gavaghan: 'It is time to push on'
By Cian O'Connell
The London GAA story has always been about passion and perseverance with Liam Gavaghan offering a perfect illustration of what can be achieved.
Quietly, but effectively homegrown players are being delivered for the London Senior Football team and in 2017 Gavaghan acts as a proud captain.
London should never be dismissed or disrespected, the recent Allianz Football League Division Four victory over Carlow was achieved with an industrious display from Ciaran Deely’s developing team.
“It was a good win, London normally don't win games at this time of the year in February,” Gavaghan, part of the London panel since 2011, admits.
“We normally come good later on in the League so it is satisfying that we got a win under our belt early on.
“It is time to push on, we can't just sit back on one win, thinking that is it, we need to push on for the rest of the League. Hopefully we can improve, get better performances to hopefully get a few more wins.”
Philip Butler and Adrian Moyles are two other established English born players alongside Gavaghan and it is something that London GAA are anxious to develop further. Being a solid and sustainable unit is the objective.
“Yes, definitely, over the last four or five years English born players have been coming through more and more,” Gavaghan says.
“It is only going to benefit London in the long term if you have a core of English born players who can play at this level.
“It will only improve London because they are always going to be in London. Irish fellas that come over here, their first port of call is for work really and then football. If you have a core of English born lads that are going to be here, year in, year out it will bring stability and hopefully keep London progressing.”
Gavaghan’s parents, who are from Sligo and Mayo, moved to London with a young family in 1988, Gaelic Games always occupied a central role in their lives.
"I came on to the London panel in Paul Coggins' first year when I was 18 which was in 2011."
“My two brothers and sister were born in Ireland, they moved over here with my Mum and Dad,” Gavaghan explains.
“They played Gaelic Football over here, I used to go to watch them as a kid. My Dad is really heavily in to it. Since a young age it has always been on the TV or I've been going out to games with my Dad so I've always had an eye for it.”
That is certainly the case with Gavaghan an influential figure for Tir Chonaill Gaels for much of the past decade. Gavaghan was influential in London’s triumph over Carlow too with former and current London bosses Paul Coggins and Deely fully aware of his ability.
“I started playing when I was about nine with St Clarets,” Gavaghan remarks. “However, when I got to Under 14 they couldn't field a team anymore which happens a lot at underage over here.
“So I moved to Tir Chonaill Gaels, one of the bigger clubs in London. From 14 onwards I played with Tir Chonaill Gaels, I came on to the senior team when I was 17. I came on to the London panel in Paul Coggins' first year when I was 18 which was in 2011. I have pushed on ever since, I can't complain I'm happy.”
Players are forced to travel significant distances to training in London, but Gavaghan, who lives in Greenford, is one of the fortunate few.
“It isn't too bad for me, I live in Greenford. Tir Chonaill Gaels' pitch is in Greenford which isn't too far from my house and Ruislip is again only three or four miles,” Gavaghan states.
“For me I'm living in an ideal area for Gaelic Football. However, there are plenty of lads on the panel who are travelling from South London or East London.
“So on Wednesday when there was a Tube strike it took lads two and a half hours to get to training. So it can be a struggle, but everybody on the panel is very committed to the cause. They take those sacrifices to get on the team so it is working well.”
Planes, trains, and automobiles are needed for every London fixture this Spring. With the Emerald GAA Grounds being redeveloped London’s seven Division Four fixtures are all away. “You have to deal with it and it is tough,” Gavaghan acknowledges.
“I'm not going to say it isn't. You are up at 6am on Saturday morning and you aren't back home until 11pm on Sunday night. Most lads are up at 6am on Monday for work so it isn't ideal.
"It is tough, but you just have to get on with it because it is a great opportunity too to get away - with 25 or 26 lads going away together it is a great chance to get a bit of bonding for the year.
“You have to look at the positives, but there are negatives as well. You just have to try to get the most out of the weekend.” London head for Aughrim on Sunday carrying hope and a drop of expectation too.