By Larry Cooney
London’s footballers may make the trip to Division 4 league leaders Leitrim without their inspirational captain, Liam Gavaghan, and star forward Killian Butler.
Both sat out last weekend’s five-point defeat to Antrim in West Belfast, and their absence will be felt in Carrick-on-Shannon next Sunday if they are again missing from the side.
Although tipped to be among the contenders for promotion at the start of the league campaign, Antrim were still without a win before last Sunday.
But Lenny Harbison’s side’s task was made considerably easier by the absence of London’s top scorer Gavaghan and Butler, who netted in the win over Wexford.
Neither player travelled with the team to Belfast and London manager Ciaran Deely confirmed that both picked up injuries in a mid-week challenge game.
“That was major blow for us, without two of our best finishers ahead of this game against Antrim. We knew it would therefore be difficult to get scores,” Deely told the Irish World.
The worry for Deely this week will be whether or not Gavaghan and Butler will be fit to make the trip to Carrick-on-Shannon to face highflying Leitrim.
“Unfortunately Liam was concussed so I’m not sure whether or not he will be available because we have to adhere to Croke Park protocols for such a serious injury,” he said.
“It’s a pity because by Saturday (23 February) he was ok but he needs another seven days after that before he can return to full contact playing activity. That makes him, Killian Butler, Feargal McMahon and Ryan Forde major doubts for this Sunday’s game.”
London took an early lead against Antrim through David Dunne’s goal, but struggled to build on it before eventually going down by 1-13 to 1-8. The Exiles also conceded their first goal of the campaign, albeit from the penalty spot in the first half.
Deely conceded that although his depleted Exiles team enjoyed a huge amount of possession, they were found wanting on the day in certain aspects.
“Coming to Belfast was always going to be difficult, but I have to be pleased with the effort even if the quality in the finishing and decision-making wasn’t there,” he said.