London calling for Ciaran Deely
*By Cian O'Connell *
In London, success won’t ever be measured by silverware or cups collected - keeping the game alive matters more deeply to so many.
Those away from home have located comfort in Ruislip, while the continued emergence of London born players remains a source of optimism.
Liam Gavaghan captains London in 2017, while Philip Butler, Adrian Moyles, Killian Butler, and Gavin McEvoy are all part of the panel.
That is what offers Ciaran Deely hope, how London are trying to build a sustainable future by being competitive at inter-county level.
Inevitably the turnover of players will be high every year, that is simply a fact of life for the London footballers, but Deely, stresses the relevance of the experience acquired by Philip Butler, Gavaghan, and Moyles in recent campaigns.
“Yeah, they are mainstays on the team and you've others like Gavin McEvoy and Killian Butler coming through, he is a younger brother of Philip,” Deely says.
"We are really happy in our official squad of 30 we have five or six London born lads and more importantly in our matchday team we are likely to have three, maybe four London born chaps playing and obviously Liam Gavaghan as captain."
“That is very important. For those lads London is their home county, they aren't looking to play for Mayo, Galway or Dublin, London is their county; to me and the management team that means a lot to have them lads involved.
“You'd hope that those lads are there in the long term for London as well. It was great to be able to make Liam captain this year, but it was certainly well deserved on his part. He is possibly the best and most consistent footballer in London over the past couple of years.
“So it is great to have him as captain, he has been there since November 15 or whatever it was and he has led from the front. He is a big player for us.”
Still, it can be demanding, though, because London must plan without others with the potential to perform at this level according to Deely. “It is a big challenge because we had another few London born chaps in with us last year and for a variety of reasons including university and work they've had to step away,” Deely admits.
“I've brought in another couple of young lads to give them an opportunity, but it certainly is a long term thing in London. It takes time and it takes funding and takes a lot of effort which is being done behind the scenes.
“We are really happy in our official squad of 30 we have five or six London born lads and more importantly in our matchday team we are likely to have three, maybe four London born chaps playing and obviously Liam Gavaghan as captain.”
Deely feels that it is only in the last month or so that the London team have acquired the same type of fitness and intensity as other outfits in Ireland with Championship in the air.
“It is a different feel, isn't it,” Deely remarks ahead of Sunday’s Connacht SFC clash against Leitrim. “We've trained in Ealing Broadway, there is a different feel around in the lead up to Championship.
“Training goes up a notch, there is a bit more of a bite. Lads get frustrated and tetchy, they are fitter. More hits are going in, I suppose, for us we are finally after catching up, I hope, with the other teams physically.
“We are still at a disadvantage in that we are still trying out players. We've never seen them in Championship, some players we have never seen even in the League because they have been injured or come in late.
“That is a real challenge for us, to try to bed in a team and a system of play with players you haven't seen that much of. That is a real challenge.”
'Out of the Connacht teams they are probably the team that won't be complacent out of those teams.'
A year ago a tussle with Mayo brought a bumper crowd to Ruislip, on this occasion London carry a bit of quiet expectation into their game against Leitrim.
“Yeah, I suppose it is very different to the challenge of last season when we had Mayo coming to town,” Deely states.
“Of course you want to win and to perform, but really you are ultimately looking to do a little bit of damage limitation, give them a little bit of a scare and I think we did in some sense. We probably should have been closer at the end.”
Deely is adamant, though, that Leitrim will afford London significant respect. “Leitrim is a little bit different because we are a lot more aware of Leitrim because we have played them in Division Four,” the former Wexford forward comments.
“People have said to me 'that is a great chance to get a win', but we haven't beaten Leitrim in the League over the last number of years or anything like that.
“So they are certainly ranked above us, but we hope that on the day we can perform to our maximum and Leitrim maybe have a slight off day.
“Then we have a chance, but out of the Connacht teams they are probably the team that won't be complacent out of those teams. They are well aware of the challenge of London.”