Part of the Sligo team defeated by the Exiles in 2013, Shane McManus will line out for his new county London on Sunday
By Damian Dolan
Shane McManus has warned that they’ll be “no complacency” from Sligo this time around, as they return to the scene of one of London’s greatest triumphs, and the Yeats county’s darkest days.
One team’s joy, of course, is another’s disappointment.
McManus lined out at half forward for the Yeats county that 2013 day, but on Sunday the Geevagh-native will be in London colours, having made his debut for the Exiles against Carlow in the opening round of this year’s National League.
Having helped Sligo reach a Connacht final in 2012, McManus admits the Yeats men arrived at Ruislip “overconfident” five years ago.
“We took them [London] for granted,” McManus told the Irish World. “It was 100 percent a bit of complacency.
“It was disappointing alright. It was a bit embarrassing to be the first team to come over and get beat in the Connacht Championship, especially after us reaching the Connacht final the year before. I remember Mark Gottsche had a good game that day.”
It was McManus’ Geevagh clubmate Pat Hughes who hit the London crossbar twice – the second from the last play of the game as Sligo came within a whisker of breaking London hearts.
He added: “That year we thought we were in a Connacht final. We thought all we had to do was go and beat London and then we’d beat Leitrim in the semi-final. We thought it was an easy route to a Connacht final.”
McManus has been in contact with some of his former Sligo teammates and says they’re taking Sunday’s game “very serious”.
“There’s no complacency, especially after we had a couple of good results in the league. They will have been watching out for that,” he said.
“It’s not like before – they know they’re not going to get an easy ride.”
Hopes dashed of reaching another Connacht final in 2013, the team and its management came in for intense criticism in the media, not least from former Sligo inter-county star Eamonn O’Hara.
“There was a bit of pressure on us [after the London defeat] and definitely a lot of pressure on the management,” recalls McManus, who broke on to the Sligo panel in 2011.
He made his championship debut at centre back in 2012 against New York, chipping in with a point as the Yeats men put the home side to the sword, 3-21 to 0-6.
He was again on the scoresheet as Sligo overcome Galway in the semi-finals. They then gave Mayo a run for their money before a controversial score six minutes from time left Sligo to rue their luck, and helped James Moran’s side to a two-point victory.
McManus played championship again in 2014 but after being involved in Sligo’s 2015 league campaign, was left out of the panel for the championship. He spent that summer in New York and won a senior championship with Donegal.
In 2016 he joined St Kiernans. The father of London teammate Tom Waters is from McManus’ home-town club, Geevagh, and it was that connection which led him to Kiernans.
It proved a good move as he helped the club reach the 2016 county final, only for McManus to break his leg a week before Kiernans were crowned senior champions for the first time in their history.
“It was a disaster, but that’s just the way it went,” says McManus philosophically.
The injury kept him out for nine months, but he returned to play championship for Kiernans in 2017, and force his way into Ciaran Deely’s reckoning.
And following a positive league campaign, which included victory over Wicklow and a draw with Limerick, McManus believes the Exiles can now repeat their 2013 win over Sligo.
“I definitely think we can win. We’ve as good as players as them…..we’re physically bigger. That’s one area we can take advantage of,” he said.
“After Waterford it was obviously a bit down, but we still had a good campaign. We competed well in every game and we’re in a good place. The mood is good and we’re confident.”
As for the prospect of lining out against his native county, McManus isn’t phased.
“It will be a bit different but it’s just another game really. I’m looking forward to it. The team you’re playing with is the team you want to win. I play for London now, not Sligo,” he said.