How’s you fitness? It’s nearly there, not as good as I’d like it to be. You probably don’t be working yourself as hard when you’re inside (full forward).
I suppose I put it to the back of my mind but my fitness is what it is, it’s not going to get any better in a week.
What kept you out? I had an ankle operation at Christmas so was out with that for about three months. I’m not the best fella for keeping the weight off when I’m not training.
It took me a while to get back but slowly but surely the few games in the League helped, and the club games… every little bit counts.
London are always hard to beat at Ruislip in the championship, but playing in Carrick will be a different challenge, won’t it? It is but I think the pressure lifts off us a bit. During the League in the last couple of years, I find that when we travel home we just go out and express ourselves, with nothing to lose.
So I’m looking forward to it. We’ll go over there and settle in. We’ve played in Carrick three times recently. It’s not a bad field. Hopefully there’ll be a bit of a crowd from here and around Ireland to support us.
You have family connections there, don’t you? All my family are from Carrick on Shannon. My mother and father were raised there. My aunts and uncles are there all the time.
Why did your parents move to Cavan? My father is a guard, he was stationed in Cavan. I was born there.
Do you have an affinity for Leitrim football? I would have gone to their games when I was young… the Connacht final in ’94… I was wearing a Leitrim jersey when I was that age.
How old are you now? 28.
You’ve been around the inter-county scene for a long time now… Yeah, I played minor then under 21s for three years which overlapped with playing senior for three years with Cavan.
One year I didn’t play anything [county], it was a good break. We won the club championship with Fulham that year [in 2011]. But it was hard to say no to a man like Paul Coggins.
Did he give you the hard sell? No, not at all. It took one phone call. He’s just an infectious character, loves the game and loves the lads he’s dealing with. He’d do anything for you and I think that’s why he gets the same effort back from the lads.
This is Paul’s third year and he has the nucleus of his team together all the time, and I think it’s standing to us this year.
There’s a much lower turnover of players with London now, isn’t there? There is. There are lads who probably would have left but Paul has persuaded them to give it another year, have another crack at it. It’s paid dividends.
You need that continuity… That’s why teams at home always had the advantage over us. On paper we can often be the better team but it’s the playing together and learning and automatically knowing what side to kick the ball to fellas without even thinking.
That’s massive. You can’t teach it and you can’t train it, it’s just time and that’s it.
London are quite a big team physically now, aren’t they? Definitely. Down the spine and in the forwards everyone seems to be at least six foot. Greg Crowley, Ciaran McCallion, Cathal McGee, Geraghty, Gottsche… this is good because it’s about breaking the gain line and getting the support runners beside you.
Running at defences is something you like to do yourself, isn’t it? Taking the ball at pace, that’s what everyone wants to be doing. If I’m taking it at pace, it’s very hard to stop. Same with Geraghty or any of these boys. If you’re running fast with the ball and someone is off your shoulder, no defence in Ireland will cope with that. It’s probably how Donegal play the game, a man off the shoulder at pace.
I always make my runs late, and that’s why I arrive at the right time, that’s something you learn when you’re playing a while. If you make a run four times you mightn’t get the ball but the fifth time you could create a goal. You’ve got to keep on making those runs.
What kind of physical training do you do? Do you do much in the gym? No, I hate the gym. It’s more cardio stuff that I do. Keeping the weight down, that’s what I concentrate on. Get the fitness as high as I can.
How are you that size then? I’m like this since I was young. My brothers are the same, and they do no training. It’s all running for me.
What’s your target weight? Around 15-and-a-half stone.
Are you there now? Just a little bit over, if I lost half-a-stone I’d be absolutely flying.
How do you prepare, physically and mentally, the week of a game, the day of a game? Years ago I probably would have got myself too worked up. Nowadays I try to relax. I think the better games you’ve had are when you don’t change things. If you go and do special things, you’re draining yourself.
If you think about it too much, you’re draining energy all the time. Do your normal thing. Go home from work, have the dinner you normally have. Just make sure that the week leading up to the game you’re drinking lots of fluids. On the morning concentrate on the game and when the warm-up starts you’re tuned in and ready to go.
Then just keep ticking over, being aware of what your job is, who’s going to be coming off your shoulder, picturing a good pass, a good score.
You’re calmer now on the pitch… Maybe full-forward has helped that. In the middle it’s hustle-bustle, there’s lads bumping into you all the time.
Trying to wind you up? It happens in games I suppose. Anyone who kicks good scores probably gets that as part of the game unfortunately. Yeah, I’m dealing with it a bit better now.
There’s more maturity now? It’s about time. I’ll only be dealing with it when I’m finished playing so it’s about time I started staying out of it. I’ll probably get some sort of treatment in Leitrim too. I’ll just have to deal with it or the team will suffer.
What must go right for London to win this game? We have to show no fear. Don’t let the occasion get to us. Play our game. Take scores when we have them, and when we go ahead, go another bit ahead because numerous times in the League we’ve gone ahead of teams and then we get into a position where we kind of say to ourselves, ‘We’re not supposed to be here’ and doubt creeps in and they get a couple of scores back and they nudge ahead.
If we’re three points up, pretend we’re drawing and drive on and get another three points up. We done that well against Sligo. We came out in the second half, I think we went seven up. The sending off didn’t help us I suppose but when we’re ahead we need to push it a little bit, because they will have their purple patch and we have to deal with that. If we can just push it that little bit when we’re on top, that’ll be the difference.