Deely primed for London challenge after Indian adventure
As pathways to inter-county football management posts go, working for Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar is a slightly less conventional route than what we have come to expect.
But that's exactly where Ciaran Deely found himself when his phone rang to confirm that he had been appointed the new London football manager last November.
Deely, a substitute for Wexford in their 2008 All-Ireland semi-final, had been working as a sports scientist with Kerala Blasters, the Indian Super League soccer franchise that Tendulkar now has a majority stake in.
He had gone on the ticket of former England caretaker manager Peter Taylor, who took over as manager from David James for last season.
The Indian Super League is a fledgling entity; results for the Blasters didn't go according to plan and Taylor departed midway through the season which lasts from September to December, to be replaced by former Ireland international Terry Phelan, who was head of football and director of the academy over there.
Deely, a UL sports science graduate who mastered in strength and conditioning at Middlesex University after years working as a coach with Dublin GAA, saw out his contract before returning to London where he had worked in a coaching capacity with former manager Paul Coggins last year.
Having worked through four seasons in QPR's sports science department, Deely wanted a fresh challenge.
"I hooked up with Peter Taylor for the Indian Super League. It's a new initiative like the cricket. It just appealed," he recalls.
Spanish World Cup winner Carlos Marchena was the headline act on the books but at QPR Deely had already worked with some well-known personalities in the game during Harry Rednapp's stewardship, when Glenn Hoddle and Joe Jordan were on the coaching staff.
In that time QPR were twice promoted and twice relegated from the Premier League.
Deely's career is geared towards sports science and he feels opportunities will open again. But for now, London is calling.
"I wouldn't like to go back to QPR because I have done that but my career is geared towards being a sports scientist in a football club," he says.
"There are always positions coming up, especially in around London in the academies and even first teams.
"I quite enjoy the different challenges, going to India to experience that. Even the London job is different. When you're in a professional football club everything is done for you, you have everything at hand, resources, money."
He felt drawn to London to continue last year's work and the ground made up by Coggins before that.
"It's a huge difference. People don't realise until they are actually involved the differences between London and other teams.
"I'm sure we have the smallest budget of all the teams but yet we have to travel to Ireland which costs £60,000 per year for all the games.
"We trained the other night and I'd say if any of our opponents saw the surface we had to train on, they'd be completely shocked. They wouldn't believe it.
But they are all well aware of the odds by now in London and don't shirk the challenge.
"There's huge turnover of players every year. It's very difficult to build a team over a period of time. This year the change is greater so the Paul Coggins team is probably most coming to an end," continues Deely.
"There's a few lads who are still there from that team. We had a good few retirements this year and lads going back to Ireland. It's like a new team and it needs time to bed down and put across our philosophy."
Last year's captain Marty Carroll has gone travelling, goalkeeper Declan Traynor has retired, and one of their best players, Conor Sheridan, has returned home.
Deely intends nurturing a number of London-born players this season, with up to 12 of an extended 35-man squad fitting that category.
"You work with a player all through the season or even halfway through the year he'll ring and say, 'Listen I have a job at home and I'm moving back.' And there's obviously nothing you can do about that," Deely explains.
"What we're trying to do, which Paul instigated, we're trying to push it on to another level now this year whereby we're bringing in the development squad players.
"The biggest thing Paul did was make London competitive, he made London matter. And before him Noel Dunning.
"We have those few games where we get beaten quite well. We just want to get to a stage where we get more consistent."