EOIN O’NEILL has a strong chance of featuring for London in Sunday’s Connacht SFC quarter-final clash with Leitrim at Ruislip (3pm).
That’s according to London boss Paul Coggins, who insists that the knee injury O’Neill sustained in Tir Chonaill Gaels’ win over Fulham Irish last Friday isn’t as bad as initially feared.
The 24-year-old Galwayman limped off after shipping a heavy challenge from Fulham goalkeeper Declan Traynor and appeared to be a major doubt for this weekend’s game.
“I would rate Eoin’s chances as pretty good,” said Coggins. “It’s not as bad as first thought. We’re more than hopeful that Eoin will be at a hundred per cent, which he’ll have to be to take part because there’ll be no half measures about this.
“All the players will go through rigorous fitness tests because you can’t go into a game like this carrying any injuries. We have a strong enough squad to deal with them.”
O’Neill is one of London’s key forwards and hit four points in last year’s famous win against Fermanagh. However, Ciaran Bonner and Greg Crowley, both of whom are carrying hamstring injuries, look set to miss Sunday’s visit of Leitrim.
Coggins guided London to a historic win against Fermanagh last June and he’ll hope to play his part in creating more history on Sunday, as the Exiles search for a first Connacht SFC win since 1977.
He said: “We’ll have to perform to the highest level possible. The attitude will have to be absolutely spot on. There might be high levels of expectation because of last year, but that’s fine. If the performance level is high enough, we’ve got a chance.”
One of London’s main problems in 2012 has been a scarcity of goals: in 11 games this year, they’ve scored just two. When asked if his side can beat Leitrim without hitting the net, Coggins said: “Goals win games and forwards win games.
“Obviously that’s one of a number of things we’ve worked on, but if you score enough points you’ll win the game too. It depends on what happens on the day, but I certainly I wouldn’t say no to a couple of goals.”
Coggins added: “We’re very happy with how our preparation has gone. We’ve got the players, we’ve got the quality inside to do what needs to be done, but it’s going to take a huge effort. We’re ready for it.”
*See this week’s print edition of the The Irish Post for a bumper preview of London v Leitrim, including interviews with Llyod Colfer, Eoin O’Neill and Mark Gottsche, plus John Collins on the agony of the 1997, 2002 and 2007 clashes between these sides.