LONDON football boss Ciaran Deely was impressed with his side’s performance in Sunday’s friendly defeat to Louth, as the Exiles started with eight London-born players against the Wee County.
London lost 3-17 to 1-15 in the 1916 Commemoration challenge game — with Alan Dunne scoring the goal and Adrian Moyles hitting 0-6 — but Deely was delighted with the showing of some of his fringe players and young stars against the newly-crowned Division 4 champions.
And the Wexford native believes some of London’s up-and-coming players can form the backbone of a successful London side for years to come.
Speaking as the Exiles prepare for the Connacht Championship quarter-final with reigning champions Mayo on May 29, Deely said: “It’s rare for London to get friendly games against very good quality opposition like Louth, who won the Division 4 final last week. But the thing we were most happy about is that we started with eight London-born players in the starting XV.”
He added: “Ciaran Healy for me was the really big success story. This time last year on the same day he played against Warwickshire’s U18 team for London’s U18 development squad and on Sunday he started and played the full game at centre-back for the senior team.
“That’s what London needs over the next few years, a couple of lads like that who are coming through the development system. He plays without any fear, he’s London-born, London is his county so we were delighted with him.”
Deely was also full of praise for fellow young guns Shane Buckley, Alfie McNulty and Killian Butler, with the latter coming off the bench to grab a point and unlucky not to get a goal.
“It’s really added a new impetus to the squad that these lads are actually in the squad and pushing for the starting XV,” said Deely. “They’re keeping some of the older lads who’ve been there for the last few years on their toes.”
He added: “Even aside from Mayo we’re looking forward into the future to having these lads playing for London for the next 10 years and to be the backbone of the next team.”
Cormac Coyne, Alan Dunne, Mickey Walsh and Niall O’Carroll also got some game time against Louth. The fixture came too soon for Conor Campbell, James Moran and PP O’Hara who are in the late stages of rehab, but they are expected to play some part in London’s two challenge games in Ireland in two weeks’ times. The only blow for London was a fractured thumb for midfielder Cathal Óg Greene, which is likely to sideline him for three to four weeks.
Despite being pleased with his side’s preparations however, Deely was pragmatic about the task facing them when they meet the defending Connacht champions.
“It’s going to be very difficult for us against Mayo,” said Deely. “When it comes to the Championship it can be a little bit of a lottery on the day. We have to be playing well above ourselves, and Mayo would have to have an off day because you have a Division 1 and a Division 4 team competing.
“We’ll play as best we can and set up as best we can, the lads will be up for the game but we’re under no illusion that it’s going to be very difficult for us.”