By Damian Dolan
Tir Chonaill Gaels manager Paul Coggins has promised a “determined performance” from his players when they face Pádraig Pearse’s for a place in the Connacht Club senior final on Sunday.
The London champions take on the Roscommon titleholders at McGovern Park (2pm), with Coggins vowing that his side will be “giving everything” in order to reach the decider on 24 November.
If their manager’s gusto is anything to go by, the Greenford club are definitely up for this one, having pushed Clann na nGael close in last year’s quarter-final.
“We’re really looking forward to this, and I’m really looking forward to it. And I really meant that,” Coggins told the Irish World.
“This is going to be a big performance from Tir Chonaill Gaels, and it’s going to have to be.”
Coggins admits only a display of the “highest level” will do against Pádraig Pearse’s, who overcame Sligo kingpins Tourlestrane in their Connacht quarter-final by 3-7 to 0-6.
Pearse’s are well known to Coggins, who comes from Granlahan in Roscommon and whose hometown club is Michael Glaveys.
“This season they were always the favourites in Roscommon. They’re a really top side and have been over the years,” he said.
“They’ve got a good sprinkling of Roscommon senior players, including the Daly brothers. They’re a really experienced team.”
The club clinched its first-ever senior Roscommon title with a 2-10 to 1-10 win over Roscommon Gaels, having lost out in seven previous finals.
This is Pearse’s first venture into Connacht, therefore, while TCG got a taste for it last year.
The Londoners put it up to Clann na nGael at Dr Hyde Park before going down by 1-15 to 1-10.
While TCG will be missing a good few of those who played a part 12 months ago at Dr Hyde Park – the likes of Killian Butler, Mark Gottsche, Eoin Murray, Adrian Hanlon and Shaun Burke – the club can still draw on that experience.
They Gaels led at half-time by 1-6 to 0-8, having trailed by four after 17 minutes. But Clann controlled the game after Graham Pettit’s 44th minute goal put them back in front.
“We acquitted ourselves very well. We were disappointed with the result because we felt at half-time that we were in a really good position,” said Coggins.
🏆@AIB_GAA Connacht Senior Football Club Semi Finals
🗓️ Sun 10th Nov
— Connacht GAA (@ConnachtGAA) November 6, 2019
“We know we can be competitive as long as we prepare properly and we’re mentally right.
“Yes, we’ve lost a few players but I seriously feel we’re even better prepared this year for the test ahead of us.”
Clann was TCG’s third championship game in as many weeks, after their county final showdown with Fulham Irish went to a replay.
This time they’ve had the ‘luxury’ of sitting back last weekend and watching Pádraig Pearse’s and Tourlestrane slug it out. And perhaps most significant of all, this time TCG are at Ruislip and it’s their opponents who have to travel.
But Coggins’ previous experience of playing teams from Ireland, both with TCG and London, tells him that it’s down to his side to make those factors count in their favour.
“Home advantage will go out the door once the game starts, unless we can start in a very strong fashion, which we aim to,” he said.
“If we’re well in there, later in the game, it then becomes a factor.
“But we’ve got to be in it from the start. You cannot afford to play just for one half, or even 45 minutes. You’ve got to play for the full 60 minutes.
“You’ve got to give everything. Every tackle, every kick-pass has to be on the button.”
The prospect of a Connacht semi-final at Ruislip – 60 minutes away from reaching a final – was an irresistible carrot for Coggins when he looked at the fixtures at the start of the year.
Being in this game on 10 November, he openly admits, has always been his target.
“I’m not going to pretend otherwise. That’s what you do as a manager, you look to play in the biggest games,” said Coggins.
“This is not something we’ve started preparing for in the last few weeks. We’ve been looking to try and play in this game all year.
“My management team and these players came on board to play at the highest level and be successful.”
He added: “We’re like a ship on the ocean. We’re on a journey and this is a continuation of that journey.”
TCG will hope that McGovern Park, Ruislip, on Sunday isn’t their final destination.