By Damian Dolan
London senior football manager Ciaran Deely said his side’s challenge match with Ulster and Donegal SFC champions Gweedore at McGovern Park on Saturday was the “ideal preparation” for the Exiles’ NFL Division 4 campaign.
The Exiles welcome Limerick to Ruislip on Sunday (throw in 1pm) in Round 1.
Eamonn Collum’s late goal saw the Donegal side, who face Galway’s Corofin next month in the All-Ireland Club SFC semi-finals, edge an entertaining encounter by 3-11 to 2-13.
The Exiles, though, came within a whisker of snatching victory when Thomas McCurtains’ Niall Coffey hit the post in the final minute.
The result, however, was not the be-all-and-end-all for London boss Deely, who said he was “very happy to get the game”.
He added: “We obviously lack games like that so to have Gweedore, who are in very good shape and as a club team they’re a very tight-knit group, is ideal preparation.”
Last minute!! @LONDAINGAA within a whisker of beating @UlsterGAA and @officialdonegal SFC champions @gaothdobhairclg in a Challenge Match at McGovern Park @HSukgaa @officialgaa pic.twitter.com/B8iLirLPRS
— the Irish World (@theirishworld) January 19, 2019
Captain Liam Gavaghan led the way for London with 0-9f, while former Cavan footballer Barry Tully’s (1-1) first half goal helped the home side open up a 1-8 to 1-4 lead at the break.
Killian Butler (0-1) and Mark Gottsche (0-1f) were also among the London scorers.
“We got our defensive shape set up well and we countered attacked well at times. There were a few times we kicked the ball away too quickly, but aside from that we were composed and looked bright,” said Deely.
Harlesden Harps’ Ciaran Houlihan scored London’s second half goal after Liam Feerick’s (Round Towers) strike had been well saved by the Gweedore goalkeeper.
The visitors got on top in the second half, though, as London tired. Deely rang the changes which included debuts for former Donegal forward Adrian Hanlon and ex-Sligo duo Eoin Flanagan and James Hynes (both North London Shamrocks).
Gweedore’s other goals came from James Boyle and former Donegal star Kevin Cassidy.
“Second half, the last 15-20 minutes we dropped a little bit, but we’re not minding about that, because we had our first 15 lads starting for the first 45 minutes and then it was a case of getting lads minutes,” added Deely.
Deely will have been pleased with the performances of Tully, Fearghal McMahon and David Carribine, in particular. Michael Clarke (Dulwich Harps) also looked composed at corner back.
He admitted that there are a number of top players in London he would love to have on the county panel, such as Adrian Moyles, Tom Waters, Marcus Mangan, James Moran, David Givney, Michael Murphy and Liam Staunton, but said he can ultimately only “ask these lads to come out”.
“I can’t stand here and say we’ve got everyone we’d like to be playing with London, because there are plenty of other players in London who would be at least on the squad,” he said.
“It’s very unfortunate that we don’t get everybody. I know every county doesn’t get every single player, but in London there are plenty of top players we don’t have.”