Wednesday 29 January 2020

Exiles sensationally send Sligo team packing

Barry Mitchell celebrates following his side's victory.
Barry Mitchell celebrates following his side's victory.

Graham Clifford

IT may have taken London 36 years to win their first game in the Connacht Senior Football Championship, but those watching the Exiles' progress in recent years aren't surprised.

Yesterday afternoon in the North London borough of Ruislip, the side, managed by Roscommon native Paul Coggins, sent Sligo packing with a scoreline of 1-12 to 0-14.

"This has been coming for a few years," London GAA chairman Noel O'Sullivan told the Irish Independent.

"We've had some very talented players join us in recent seasons, but you also have rising levels of self-belief, excellent training facilities and a real sense of purpose under our manager."

It was 1977 when London last tasted success in the Connacht Championship when they put Leitrim to the sword. In recent years, though, the chances of an upset have steadily increased.

In 2011, Mayo needed extra-time to escape from Ruislip with the win, and in the same season the Exiles notched up a victory over Fermanagh in the qualifiers.

The impact of the economic downturn in Ireland has forced many top footballers to cross the Irish Sea, with the Exiles benefiting.

Former Cavan player Lorcan Mulvey has been a revelation for London. He netted the vital goal at Ruislip yesterday, and the 27-year-old site manager is key to his adopted team's success.

Man-of-the-match Mark Gottsche (25), from Oranmore in Galway, actually works for the GAA in London. With the official title of senior games development and logistics manager, he's responsible for promoting Gaelic games in schools and clubs across the city.

He was ecstatic at the final whistle. "It hasn't sunk in what we've achieved. We're one step away from a Connacht Final," he said.

London sides change dramatically from year to year as players move on to other countries or return to Ireland. In recent years, though, this trend has slowed significantly.

Irish Independent

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