Monday 23 October 2017

Coggins eager to see London build on breakthrough season

Cavan 1-17 London 1-8

Cavan's Martin Dunne in action against David McCreevy of London in Croke Park
Cavan's Martin Dunne in action against David McCreevy of London in Croke Park
David Kelly

David Kelly

London falling. And with the end of one dream, a fairytale of New York comes spinning into dizzy Breffni souls. If London's tale is romantic, then a quarter-final draw that induces sepia-tinted memories of the Polo Grounds, 1947 and all that tends to establish a sense of the positively starry-eyed about this Cavan summer.

London falling. And with the end of one dream, a fairytale of New York comes spinning into dizzy Breffni souls. If London's tale is romantic, then a quarter-final draw that induces sepia-tinted memories of the Polo Grounds, 1947 and all that tends to establish a sense of the positively starry-eyed about this Cavan summer.

But, for manager Terry Hyland, it is all too vivid as they prepare for such an evocative date with the Kingdom.

"We'll go in as underdogs," Hyland says. "We won't mind that. We're only one year down the road in where we want to be with a very young squad. We won't accept being in the last eight as being All-Ireland. We want to push on and do as well as we can."

Cavan's last memory of Croke Park before Saturday was an All-Ireland semi-final defeat, to Kerry, in 1997; they also lost to the aristocrats in '55 and '64, but this week it will be all about 1947 when the Kingdom were the Stateside victims.

History may not inform the present but it is breathing heavily upon their necks; the last time Cavan poured a cumulative run of four wins together was in 1952, the year they won the last of their five All-Irelands.

That represented their third in five years; Cavan were once aristocrats of the game themselves, lest we forget.

"I can't remember that far back!" puffs Hyland. "Listen, it's a sign we're doing things right. We've won nothing, nobody's handed out any medals."

Deserted

Whatever about memories of a Fairytale of New York, the present day Lullaby of London still rang through the mostly deserted Croke Park on Saturday afternoon.

Paul Coggins' team contributed handsomely to the puncturing of much Cavan supporters' optimism in their youthful and inexperienced outfit ahead of their formidable Kerry appointment. Despite their pulverising in Connacht six days earlier, London tagged the northerners for much of the afternoon before flagging in the final 10 minutes.

Many people have had fun at their expense this summer; the real joke has been their ability to ruthlessly expose the paucity of quality within the Connacht football championship.

For London to maintain their new exalted profile, they must retain their desire to remain competitive, in tandem with the (seemingly) renewed commitment of GAA HQ to back them.

It was all so rather poignant that their wonderful journey, one that began in their ramshackle, soon-to-be developed home in Ruislip, should end at the home of the sport.

"Well, it's been a great summer," tooted Coggins. "We've made great strides, probably more strides than even we felt we could. Yet we are still disappointed we didn't go a bit further.

"Coming to Croke Park once, you'd certainly like it and we'd be thinking about having it a few more times. I hope that hunger is in the lads to keep building on that and keep building towards the future.

"They have worked hard over the winter to get into this position. And I hope we have a bit of respect and are seen as a team that – especially today – will never give in and keep trying.

"We are just happy that we have been given the opportunity, whether it's through ourselves and our hard work or whatever, to have such a great summer. And it's ended now.

"But you couldn't ask for it to end in a nicer place or a better place than the home of our football. We are happy with that."

Something for everyone it seemed; although one cannot escape the conclusion that some of the football on show was of irredeemably poor quality.

Hyland's combined confection of mitigation – youth, nerves and the overwhelming favouritism must be acknowledged and the 70 minutes of vacillating fortunes here should inure them against being star-struck next Sunday. After stealthily compiling a five-point first-half lead with some strong running and inter-play, striking at the heart of London's defence, Cavan spurned two goal chances and lost their way when the Exiles thieved an unlikely goal of their own in the 20th minute.

The last time these counties met at any level was in the 1974 All-Ireland minor hurling quarter-final; the late Irish international Tony Grealish played for the Exiles that day.

He would have been proud of Gregory Crawley's perfectly weighted cross that was palmed to the net by Paul Geraghty.

Cavan mentally wilted, despite Mossie Corr's manful attempts to retrieve their sagging spirits; London forewent thoughts of aching limbs to briefly lead before heading for tea level.

Even though one assumed that Cavan's youthful vigour would extricate them from the self-created mess, London's dogged resistance would undermine them for much of the piece until their legs could race no more.

Clearly, to have any chance of beating Kerry, Cavan would probably need the fixture to be restaged in New York after inveigling Gooch and Co to decamp to a few Manhattan nightspots en route.

Then again, if London have achieved nothing more in this summer's weird and wonderful championship, it is to demonstrate that an investment of faith in the seemingly improbable can sometimes reap the most unlikely of rewards.

Scorers – Cavan: M Dunne 0-6 (4fs), D Givney 0-3, N McDermott 1-0, F Flanagan,T Corr, E Keating (1f) 0-2 each, C Mackey, M Reilly ('45') 0-1 each, London: P Geraghty 1-1, L Mulvey 0-3fs, C McCallion 0-2, C Doyle, C Magee 0-1 each.

Cavan – A O'Mara 5; T Corr 8 (J McLaughlin 58), R Dunne 7, K Clarke 7; J McEnroe 5, A Clarke (capt) 5, R Flanagan 5; D O'Reilly 5, D Givney 7; C Mackey 6, J Brady 5, F Flanagan 7; M Reilly 6, M Dunne 7, E Keating 6. Subs: J McEnroe 5 for McVitty (47), J McLaughlin 5 for Corr (58), N McDermott 6 for Brady (62), K Brady 5 for Flanagan (66), M McKeever 5 for Mackey (69).

London – D Traynor 6; P Butler 5, S Curran 5, D McGreevy 5; S Hannon 6 capt, A Gaughan 5, C Og Greene 5; C Doyle 6, P Geraghty 6; S Mulligan 7, D Dunleavy 7, C McCallion 7; G Crowley 6, L Mulvey 7, C Magee 5. Subs: B Collins 5 for Butler (50), D O'Neill 5 for Hannon (43), S Kelly 5 for McCallion (44), C Daly 5 for Crowley (46), E O'Neill 5 for Doyle (59).

Ref – B Cassidy (Derry)

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