London v Leitrim: Manager’s Report
London manager Ciaran Deely could not hide his disappointment at having to go through the qualifiers, after his team were knocked out of the Connacht championship as Leitrim punished them with three goals.
London fought back every time they went behind, kicking a total of 16 points, but the killer blow was conceding nine points through three goals due to some individual errors.
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“It is harder (to take) this year because we really, really hoped that we would be in a semi-final draw after this weekend,” he said after the first senior game to take place at McGovern Park.
“I’m gutted, speechless. It’s very difficult as last year was a bit different because we were playing Mayo where we were just looking to put in a performance and try to keep the score down, but in the back of our head we were always looking forward to the next training session and match.
“But after an hour or two, and a meal and a shower, we will start concentrating on our next training session and we’ll be getting ready for a qualifier in four weeks time.”
It took London a while to settle into the game, but some great individual scores from Liam Gavaghan (0-8) dragged them to within two points at half-time, before a strong opening to the second half saw them clock up the lead.
“We started slowly in the game, we worked our way into it then in the last ten minutes of the first half.
“I thought we performed really well, and then in the first ten minutes after halftime we really started to push on.
“I thought we put ourselves in a really good position to go on and win the game. But then that second goal went in, which was from our own individual error and from there we were always going to be fighting a bit of a losing battle.”
And the team continued to push on and chip away at Leitrim’s lead, but a number of wides and missed opportunities meant that they didn’t translate their possession and territory onto the scoreboard.
“I think it was a bit of inexperience and panic when we started shooting from angles and distances we shouldn’t have been going for.
“I would have preferred to see the scoreboard ticking over and start putting real pressure on them.
“It was always going to be difficult, but I have to say I am happy with the way the lads responded.”
One of the biggest talking points before throw-in was one of the four late changes to London’s team sheet, as former Tyrone star, and three-time All-Ireland medal winner, Owen Mulligan was included in the starting 15.
No matter what club,team,or county you play for. Defeat still taste’s the same. Gutted. #london
— owen mulligan (@owen_mulligan) May 28, 2017
There had been much speculation if the 35-year-old corner-forward was going to bring his experience to the team on the day even though he hadn’t been named on the starting team.
“He’s been playing very well in training over the past couple of weeks, but we weren’t really sure if he would be up to speed so it was a late enough decision.
“Another positive is that he has a championship appearance with us now which will bring him on.”
Deely was also full of praise for other elements of London’s game.
“I think we did well on our kick-outs apart from a few before half-time that we were disappointed with.
“But in general 16 points is a great championship score, and we were very unfortunate to concede those goals. They were the winning and losing of the game.
“And a lot of players got their championship debut. It is a big occasion for them, and you could see in the first ten minutes or so it took them a little bit more time to settle into the game.
“Our defence in the second half, apart from those goals, I thought was magnificent.”