IN FULL FLIGHT Former Aghamore footballer Caoimhín Carty is pictured in action for London during this season’s National Football League. Pic: Sportsfile
AT least three Mayo natives are in line to start for London in next Sunday’s Connacht SFC quarter-final against their home county in Ruislip.
Caoimhín Carty (Aghamore), James Moran (Burrishoole) and Danny Ryan (Kilmeena) are almost certain to be in the Exiles’ starting team against Mayo with Ardnaree’s Michael Walsh and Swinford’s Conor Campbell also pushing hard for inclusion.
Carty (Kerry Kingdom Gaels) will feature in London’s defence while Moran and Ryan (both St Kiernan’s) look set to line out in midfield and in the half-forwardline respectively.
However, Darragh Quinn (Moy Davitts) will not be part of London’s match-day panel due to an ankle injury.
Speaking to The Mayo News, London manager Ciarán Deely (a former Wexford footballer) said his team’s objective was ‘to compete’ against the Connacht champions next weekend.
“We’ll be looking to compete. I have no idea what that means in terms of the scoreline, but we want to be as competitive as we can be,” explained Deely, who has also worked in the past with English football club, QPR, as a sports scientist.
“We’ll look to be in the game after fifteen minutes, and then just bring it on from there. We took the same approach to the National League.
“The thing with Mayo though is that if they hit form then they can steamroll teams. We saw that last year against Sligo and Donegal. We know we’re up against it.”
London were in Ireland ten days ago for challenge matches against Wexford and Cork selections in the space of 24 hours as they fine-tuned their preparations.
The 16/1 outsiders to beat Mayo were due to play a club team in London last weekend, in an effort to finalise their tactics and strategy for next Sunday’s match.
“We brought over a squad of 26 players to Ireland, and beat Wexford and lost to Cork,” said Ciaran Deely.
“It was a good experience for the lads, especially in terms of trying to get ready for the intensity that Mayo are going to bring next Sunday.
“It’s a huge challenge for us,” he added. “One of the top teams in Division 1 up against the eighth team in Division 4.
“If you asked me are Mayo the best team for us to play right now in terms of our development as a team, I’d have to say no.
“There’s a huge gulf there between us and them at the moment.
“We’re looking to build something here that will make London teams competitive into the future.
“This year we’ve brought in 13 London-born players, about a third of the panel.
“This game is another step on our development pathway, playing a great team in front of a big crowd, and trying to expose ourselves to that level.”
Deely has worked with Dublin GAA and English soccer team, Queens Park Rangers, as a sports scientist while a stint as fitness coach to Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League only concluded at the end of last year.
Therefore he is well-qualified to assess just why Mayo have become one of the best conditioned and most consistent Gaelic football teams in the country in recent years.
“Firstly, you can’t beat good genetics. By their nature, these Mayo lads are fantastic athletes and really good footballers. And they’re also a county with a big pick of good players.
“Plus, they’re way further in their development than we are. They’ve spent a lifetime playing club football, colleges, minor, under 21 and now senior.
“Our guys just don’t have that background, a lot of them only played county football for the first time earlier this year.
“The only way London can be viable as a GAA team in the future is to develop our underage structures and our academies and keep our players together. “The turn-over of players at the moment is just too high.”