By Damian Dolan
London’s footballers will look to carry the words of ex-Kerry footballer Paul Galvin into their All Ireland First Round qualifier tie with Louth, and play without fear.
The Exiles welcome the Wee County to McGovern Park on the weekend of June 10 after being paired together in Monday morning’s draw, bridging 105 years since the counties last played each other in the All Ireland senior football championship.
Galvin has urged the Exiles to show ‘no fear’ when he addressed the panel at a recent London training session at Tir Chonaill Park in Greenford.
The four-time All Ireland winner and three-time All Star was invited to speak to the players by London manager Ciaran Deely, after meeting at a sports science conference in London.
As well as stressing the importance of as little as ten minutes of individual practice per day, as a way of building skill levels, Galvin spoke about the fear-factor in Gaelic football.
“He emphasised the importance of being comfortable in your own approach,” Deely told the Irish World.
“There’s a lot of fear in Gaelic football at the moment – a fear of making mistakes – and you just need to play your own game and be confident.
“For London, that’s a very important thing. Against Sligo, we prepared really well. We’ve got some brilliant footballers and we showed at times, like with the goal against Sligo, how well we can play.
— the Irish World (@theirishworld) May 6, 2018
“There was that little bit of fear maybe that when things didn’t go 100 percent right in the first ten minutes, it’s easy to then fall back into yourself and play backfoot football and give the initiative to the other team. We always struggle when we do that.
“Anything he had to say about performance we soaked it up. It resonated with the lads and they enjoyed listening to him.”
It’s not the first time Deely has invited successful sports people from other fields to speak to the players. Ex-Leinster and Ireland rugby player Bernard Jackman and former Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp have both addressed the panel, and Jackman is due to return again next week in the build-up to Louth.
Louth were relegated from Division 2 this year after losing all seven of their fixtures, before being knocked out of Leinster by Carlow by 11 points. Deely, however, isn’t getting away by that.
“They’re still a Division 2 team, playing a Division 4 team, so it’s going to be a difficult game,” said Deely.
“Yes, they’ve had a tough league campaign, but they’re not going to look at us and say ‘London had an amazing campaign’.
“We had one of our better campaigns, but Division 4 is still very different to Division 2.
“They’ll be a good team and they’ll be looking to bounce back. They’ll be happy to have gotten us.”
Deely admitted to being pleased to have avoided the likes of Division 1 big-hitters Mayo and Tyrone, and newly promoted Cavan.
He said: “Some people would have been looking for Mayo or Tyrone to come to London, as a big fixture and an interesting match. I certainly wasn’t thinking that way.
“It’s great for the fans, but for us as a team at our stage of development it would be a really difficult game for us. That’s not the fixture we were looking for. Regardless of how you set up and play, if Tyrone hit form they can put any team to the sword, and certainly a Division 4 team.
“We were looking for teams where we could at least have some chance of competing on the day.”
Deely also conceded that there had been a “lull” after the defeat to Sligo, as a consequence not only of the loss but of the Exiles’ disappointing performance on the day as the Yeats men eased into a Connacht semi-final with 10 points to spare.
“We had a bit of a lull but everyone is back on it now, and now that the draw has been made everyone is 100 percent focused and ready,” he added.
For the first time, the first round ties will be played to a finish on the day at McGovern Park with a free-taking competition to settle matters should sides finish level after two separate periods of extra-time.
The Exiles have only previously recorded one victory in the All Ireland qualifiers, when they defeated Fermanagh by six points in 2011.