By Damian Dolan
No stone has been left unturned in the Exiles’ preparation for the game by manager Ciaran Deely and his management team, as London look to repeat the county’s famous win over the Yeats men of five years ago.
“I’m really happy with where we’re at.” Deely told the Irish World. “Having spoken to previous managers like Paul Coggins and Noel Dunning, we’re certainly the most prepared London team ever going into a championship.
“That in no way means we’re definitely going to win the game. Sligo are a good Division 3 team and we’re Division 4.
“It’s going to be very difficult, but I’ve got a lot of belief, and the lads have belief, that if we can perform to near our maximum then we have a good chance.”
A sports scientist with the Academy at QPR, Deely is a great believer in meticulous preparation, and the “belief and confidence” that comes from being “very well prepared”.
Part of that involves making sure the players have all the necessary information they need, relating not just to their own game and fitness levels, but detailed in-game stats and a comprehensive breakdown on their opponents, Sligo.
“You’re giving the lads as much opportunity as possible to perform,” he said.
“When we look at the opposition it’s about the threats we need to nullify, but also the areas in which we can exploit them….. how you’re going to limit them and exploit their weaknesses.
“You’re giving the lads a launch pad to then go and perform, and to try and win the game.”
The team had a long meeting last Sunday with the focus on Sligo, and Deely feels the team are ready.
Deely said: “Our meetings are completely interactive; we identify the problem that Sligo could cause us and we ask ‘how are you going to solve it?’ The players go off in their position specific groups and come back with the answer.
“It’s important because it’s not us as a coaching group saying ‘this is what we have to do’. It’s the players saying ‘this is what we are going to do’. We facilitate that…..but the players own this process.”
Sunday also saw the panel split into an ‘A’ team and a ‘B’ team for one final in-house game before the side to play Sligo is announced this week. It was the ‘B’ team which came out on top, but not before a few “scuffles” on the pitch after a match containing “great bite”.
“You know a team is ready when they start getting frustrated and angry. They just want to get out on the pitch for championship. They’re ready,” said Deely.
“The ‘B’ team won which is a great sign because you’ve real headaches picking the team. You’ve got 15 lads not on the ‘A’ team who are ready and raring to go to get into the ‘A’ team.
“That’s what you want, and it’s something that London teams haven’t always had. We haven’t had a squad of 30 where you could just bring in any of those players for championship.
“If they can’t be brought into a championship game then they shouldn’t be on the panel. Luckily we now have 30 lads who can do that.”
All they need now is Sunday.