Saturday 19 January 2019

Deely: London keen to give Sky deal thumbs-up

London manager Ciaran Deely is looking forward to Carlow’s visit tomorrow. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
London manager Ciaran Deely is looking forward to Carlow’s visit tomorrow. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

London's Gaelic footballers have always tapped whatever resource they can to as they prepare for their inter-county season.

Previously, they have used the gym at Harrow, an exclusive school that produced Winston Churchill as well as a handful of other Prime Ministers, as the base for their physical work. Current boss Ciarán Deely is no different and has looked to the sports team in the English capital as they prepare for their new season.

As a sports scientist with QPR academy, Deely has access to high-class expertise from some of the many professional outfits across the city. And he's turned to them as they prepare for their new season.

"We have a sports scientist Ross Bennett from QPR, physio is Nick Irwin (Millwall), Colm Smith S&C from Chelsea ladies, goalkeeping coach Adrian Creamer from Watford. You are trying to tap into that professionalism; Because there are so many sports clubs in London you are in the position when you can get good people involved. We have a small crew and very little funding but we try to get in quality people where possible."

Some of them have no Irish background or any knowledge of Gaelic football but that isn't necessarily a drawback, as Deely explains.

"They are English-born some of them have no Irish heritage at all and have no clue about Gaelic football. But the same principles apply and I end up discussing at length with Ross Bennett about game-plans and different innovations that are coming from soccer. You end up looking at the training the QPR lads are doing with their coaches and asking could you apply that in Gaelic football. And it's great because it means you have someone with no preconceived ideas at all about how Gaelic should be played and some of them are interesting.

"Whether it works on the day you never know but it can be interesting to try and implement some of those things."

The Sky deal has generated plenty of debate over its merits on this side of the Irish Sea but Deely has noticed the jump in awareness of the GAA in London.

"To be honest, they have a huge interest in it, especially because they know I'm involved and few others are involved. Cillian Butler, one of our forwards, is interning as a sports scientist in the academy this year so they know about that too. In general, they are interested whether they are English, Irish-English, Spanish or from Finland or wherever, they really appreciate the sport.

"The first few things they always say is how difficult it is, how big the pitch is and how physical it is and how fit you must be. So there is a real appreciation from them, especially when they hear that there is an amateur ethos to the game, they are always surprised by that.

"I know there is a lot of the debate about the Sky Sports deal back in Ireland and I agree with a lot of it myself but the only thing is, abroad for us it's fantastic because you have a lot of people here who are much more aware of what football and hurling is.

"So the players come in on a Monday and say I was watching Donegal and Monaghan at the weekend and it looked like an amazing game and tough so there is definitely greater promotion of the games and appreciation of it."

Carlow come to the recently-revamped McGovern Park in Ruislip tomorrow afternoon in what is the first fixture of the new league season. As ever, London are at a disadvantage starting off given that they have no pre-season competition to play in.

"I don't think there should be any cup competitions, the season is long enough. It should be straight into the league after pre-season just like all the professional football teams do it but having said that, because the teams we are competing against have all played competitive games then have a level playing field and we'd want to have the same.

"I wouldn't mind about the travel because travelling over and back can bond the team especially because a lot of our lads coming in are new and they can be great to get them together and get to town each other but ultimately it comes down to a cost thing for the London County Board."

Deely is hoping a handful from county champions Fulham Irish will join the squad but they won't be available this weekend while he is also keen on former Tyrone hero Owen Mulligan making himself available once more.

"It's difficult because you are going in cold at the beginning of every league. It wouldn't be a problem, look at professional football teams and they do the same. But the problem for us is that Carlow, Wicklow and Limerick have had competitive games."

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Irish Independent

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