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Neasden Gaels deny pay-for-play rumours

Armagh star Jamie Clarke. Photo: Sheila Fernandes

By Damian Dolan

Neasden Gaels chairman and manager Frank Kane has dismissed rumours that the club is attempting to buy the London senior title, by paying big name inter-county players to join them.

The club made headlines recently on both sides of the water with the signings of Armagh star Jamie Clarke and Down’s Caolan Mooney

They joined Down forward Connaire Harrison, who helped the club win an intermediate title last year. Connaire’s brother, Shane, is the latest addition having played in goal for Down.

Kane, who comes from Ballinalee in Co Longford and has been involved with the club since 2006, says it’s the club’s vision, laid out last year, and family ethos which they’ve bought in to.

“We’d have no club if that was true because guys who were loyal to the club would walk away,” Kane told the Irish World.

Neasden Gaels deny pay for play rumours
Neasden Gaels chairman and manager Frank Kane (left) and trainer Adrian Hanlon

“I’ve seen where players are paid to play, and you don’t build a club that way. It’s not the answer. It’s about getting the right people around you.

“It’s taken a lot to get guys to buy into what we’re trying to deliver, and these rumours of money seem to be designed to try and take the wind from our sails.

“It’s disrespectful to the other players who burst themselves on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night.

“The accusations of money [being] involved defeats the purpose of what we’re trying to do.”

What they’re trying to deliver goes far beyond winning a third senior title this year says Kane.

Neasden Gaels deny pay for play rumours
Down inter-county footballer Caolan Mooney

A concerted effort has been made to re-engage with past members, who’d slipped into the background, find new sponsors and increase the number of “interested parties” in the club.

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That proactive approach has also extended to recruitment.

“That’s the way our club has always operated – through the efforts of myself and other people involved to make it more attractive,” said Kane.

He met Clarke while the Armagh star was playing for Longford New York, where Kane owns a bar.

Clarke has plans to launch his own contemporary Irish men’s wear brand, and London is now where he needs to be for his business says Kane.

Neasden Gaels deny pay for play rumours
Down’s Connaire Harrison in action for Neasden in last year’s Intermediate Championship final vs St Joseoh’s at McGovern Park. Photo: Sheila Fernandes

“I can categorically tell you that Jamie is getting nothing other than advice from me about a business he’s starting,” he said.

“He’s keen and he’s thoroughly enjoying his time in London. Jamie is a good pal of mine and he trusts my advice.”

The rest is down to connections. Connaire Harrison is a cousin of Colin and Aidan Flanagan, who were both part of Neasden’s intermediate winning team. Caolan and Shane Harrison are both friends with Mooney.

The arrival of Shane Harrison means they now have four sets of brothers playing for the club.

Ambitions also extend to starting an underage set-up and due to the growing number of playing members, a second team. The club also hopes to make improvements to its home ground at Jubilee Park, Kingsbury.

While Kane is aware that they’ve already “ruffled a few feathers” – the club has reached the league Division 1 final – he says the bigger goal is to “rebuild” the club, and not just a team.

It’s nine years since Neasden won the second of its two senior titles, but Kane wants to see Neasden competing and winning championships for years to come.

Winning a title this year and then disappearing – the club has yo-yoed between senior and intermediate in recent years – would be “disrespectful” he says.

“There was a legacy set in place by the likes of Brian Mulroy, Paul Goff, Danny Sullivan and Kevin Moore, and it would be totally disrespectful to them to do that.”

For Kane, talk of Neasden winning the title this year is also premature, despite the club having beaten both Fulham Gaels and Tir Chonaill Gaels on their way to reaching the league final.

“I said to the guys afterwards [vs Fulham Irish] ‘we don’t have a piece of silverware yet – we’ve a long way still to go’,” he said.

“We’re still trying to catch up with the likes of TCG and Fulham.”

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