by Fiona O’Brien
Ciaran Deely says his footballers have a tough task ahead of them as they were drawn to play either Westmeath or Offaly in the next round of the championship.
The London manager was relieved however to avoid 2015 All-Ireland quarter-finalists Fermanagh and Donegal.
“We always knew it would be difficult regardless of who we would draw against,” he said.
“Obviously we would prefer to avoid Fermanagh and Donegal who are two very strong Ulster teams who progressed well in the championship last year.
“It would have been a huge occasion if we had have got one of them, especially when you consider the number of ex-pats from Donegal over here in London, but in terms of trying to develop and press on with this squad of players it wouldn’t have been ideal.”
The Wexford native will have his eyes firmly focussed on the TEG Cusack Park come 3:30pm this Sunday.
London bowed out of the Connacht championship to Mayo, and prior to that game Deely had pointed out the difference in league positions between London’s standing at the bottom of Div. 4 compared to Mayo’s mid-table finish in Division 1.
“We’ll be having a good look at Offaly and Westmeath. We lost to Offaly in our first league match of 2015, so we know a bit about them. They got promoted that year and were unlucky not to go up again this league campaign.
“Then Westmeath are coming down to Division 4 last year, but they’re a tough side too. Last year they reached the Leinster final against Dublin after winning that famous match against Meath in the semis.”
Deely is fresh back from the London Junior footballers win against Kilkenny at the weekend, where he was on the sideline as a selector.
“It was a really novel fixture to play Kilkenny in football at Nowlan Park, and we all really enjoyed it. Dublin and Laois were playing after us, and the Dublin fans started to come in early for their game.
“They seemed to all be cheering each other on, which was good to see the two capitals looking after each other!
Read our interview with London junior manager Peter McNally here
“I was paying particular attention to the three London-born lads who have been in the senior squad this year. Alfie McNulty played really well. He got a goal and then set one up immediately afterwards.
“Killian Butler had a great game, I think he was the best player on the pitch, and then Shane Buckley came off the bench as he is recovering from an ankle injury and he put in a really solid performance.”
Over the weekend there was a Twitter discussion between London-born senior player Adrian Moyles and London’s Community Development Administrator about the junior squad.
They said that in time to come the junior side could be used as a development squad to negate the lack of an U-21 team and bridge the gap between minor and senior for players born over here.
“I certainly support that idea. It is a really good opportunity for the London-born lads to get inter-county experience. But you can’t dismiss the Irish lads either, that play at intermediate and junior here, as it is a great opportunity for them to pull on a London jersey.
“But in the future it would be great to maybe be able to get some of the younger lads, maybe 10-15 on the junior squad.”
In this morning’s draw, London will face the losers of this weekend’s Leinster quarter-final away from home. Is the venue of importance to Deely’s side?
“To us it doesn’t really make a difference where we play. I say that sometimes it is nice for us to travel to Ireland, as we get to spend a bit more time together as a squad. We might do an activity or quiz on the Saturday evening before a match, and then have more scope to discuss our game plan.
“But we know that the tightness of the pitch at Ruislip suits us against certain teams. I know Westmeath and Offaly’s pitch are a bit wider which we’ll have to look at too. But home or away doesn’t make too much difference to us.
“I think if we had have got a home draw it would be played up in Páirc na hÉireann anyway, which isn’t really a home venue for London as our lads wouldn’t know much about that pitch.”