By Damian Dolan
Tir Chonaill Gaels manager Paul Coggins expects there to be huge interest in the vacant London senior football manager’s position following the departure of Ciaran Deely, and has stopped short of ruling himself out of contention.
The Roscommon-native previously spent five years in the job (2011-2015) and guided London to a first-ever Connacht final appearance in 2013.
Last year, he managed Tir Chonaill Gaels to a senior ‘clean-sweep’, including a senior championship title. The club has already retained two of those trophies this year – the Conway and Tipparary cups.
“If London come and talk to me then it’s something I would absolutely consider, but at this moment in time I wouldn’t be considering it as such because I’m doing a job here,” Coggins told the Irish World.
“My focus is totally on Tir Chonaill Gaels at this moment, but I enjoyed the job greatly. I would always talk to my club and see what they thought.
“We’re in our second year, trying to retain this [London senior] championship and that is my number one goal.”
The London county board’s management committee confirmed last week (1 July) that it would not be offering Deely a new deal. A decision which ended his four-year reign as manager.
A three-person committee is to be set up to find Deely’s replacement, and nominations will also be sought from the clubs.
“We’ll have to see what the club (Tir Chonaill Gaels) think and what the three-man committee think,” added Coggins, who says there are “a lot of good candidates out there”.
“It’s a prestigious role; London are a very competitive team and have improved. They’ve got great players, and they’ve great players coming through.
“They played very well in the league and the championship and I think there will be lots of candidates for the job. There’s plenty of good managers in town.”
Whomever the board decides upon to take over from Deely, Coggins believes the decision needs to made soon, to give the new manager the chance to scout players during the forthcoming championships.
“The quicker the better; I think it would be ideal if they could have the new manager in place before the end of August. And maybe even before that because you’ve got intermediate and junior,” he said.
“There’s a lot good players in both grades (junior and intermediate) and when I was in the job before I scowered it high and low. There’s plenty of talent in London.
He added: “It’s something they have to take their time to a degree, but it’s also something they need to nail pretty quickly to stop all the talk, and let the new person get on with the job.
“There’s a lot work to be done to put in place a good backroom team. The quicker the better, but there needs to be a certain amount of time taken to get the right person.”
Coggins’ familiarity with the growing number of English-born Gaels players on the London panel could also be a factor in his favour.
Of the other contenders, Deely’s selectors Joe Coulter and Michael Maher could also come into the frame.
Greg McCartan, who steered Fulham Irish to a senior London title in 2017 and still lives in London. Coulter has been part of the set-up for three years, while Maher came on board last year.
It’s believed that the Down-native did express an interest in joining Deely’s set-up for the 2020 campaign.
McCartan told the Irish World: “I’ve not been approached over the job and was surprised as anyone that Ciaran Deeley was not returning as manager.
“It’s not something I’ve given much thought to and I don’t know if I’d have credentials, or if I’d be on the radar of the selecting committee. Until then, I’m like everyone else I guess, just looking on with interest.”
One to categorically rule himself of the reckoning is Chris Byrne of St Kiernan’s due to other GAA and work commitments.
Byrne was part of Deely’s management team in 2018, having guided Kiernan’s to a first senior title in 2016.
Owen Mulligan (Fulham Irish) and Adrian Hanlon (Neasden Gaels) – both cutting their teeth in management this year – could also come into the picture. Both have vast playing experience. Hanlon isn’t ruling anything in or out at the stage.
While having no senior managerial experience, London’s only All-Star nominee, Lorcan Mulvey, would certainly have the respect of the players.
Deely brought the Cavan-man back into his panel this year to add some extra experience, three years after he played his last game for London.