By Damian Dolan
McHale Park on Sunday is sure to bring back a host of memories for former London manager Brian Devlin, under whom the Exiles took their first tentative steps in Connacht 38 years ago on the very same ground.
Just as Paul Coggins’ charges have entered uncharted territory by reaching Sunday’s final, Devlin’s Exiles were blazing a trail for others to follow when they took to the pitch in Castlebar on May 25, 1975, after a 62-year absence from the All Ireland.
Ultimately London’s first foray into Connacht would end in defeat, 4-12 to 1-12, but the Exiles’ romance with a competition that would deliver heartache and pain in equal measure over the next 38 years, mixed with moments of unbridled joy, had begun.
“As a team we all went to mass on the Sunday morning and we got a really good reception from the priest, who welcomed us,” recalled Devlin.
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