Friday 24 November 2017

McGreevy insists Exiles 'not done yet' as Croker debut looming large

David McGreevy
David McGreevy

Robert Mulhern

Two years ago London's Dave McGreevy was planning a future on the other side of the world. He had ambitions to travel with friends from home, to reach beyond Britain's capital.

He liked the sound of Rio de Janeiro; figured that at about this time he'd be relaxing somewhere exotic and not dealing with the stresses of county football in London.

But the morning after London's epic extra-time defeat (0-19 to 2-10) to Mayo in 2011, the Down man called his friend and told him that his plans had changed.

"I saw the big picture that day," he says. "I saw Paul (Coggins), how hard he works at it. Hard work always pays off and he just had it set up right. Obviously, we were knocking on the door and ready to make a bit of progress in the championship. I'm not surprised at all that it's come into bloom now with his passion for the sport."

Fast forward two years and McGreevy (right) is an established squad member and lining out against Mayo in the Connacht final and on the wrong end of a 5-11 to 0-10 scoreline. But with that defeat still fresh, the news comes through that their qualifier clash with Cavan will be played in Croke Park instead of Navan.

"You are not really looking to play in arenas, you are looking to win in arenas," he says. "Playing in Croke Park isn't going to be enough, not for me anyway. We want to win, that's the important thing and it's probably the feeling among the squad."

The Down native has never played at GAA headquarters at any level. He has visited many times to watch his county play, but the excitement of lining out there today is tempered by all that has to be done.

"I haven't really had time to think about it this week," he says. "I only got back on Monday after the Mayo match and didn't get into the house until 10.30 at night. I've been wrecked all week and we are all busy."

To counter this, London have been tailoring their preparations.

"It's all about recovery this week," he says. "We had a couple more weeks to get ready for the Connacht final, but this one has just been landed on us. It's the same for Cavan. You just have to readjust and it's more challenging."

There are other challenges – work to deal with, phone calls to take, media commitments – which McGreevy explains away as being the modern lot of London player.

Until recently no one was interested, but now there's a chance to make London football fashionable.

"It has to be done; there is no other way around it. All the lads in the panel are mature enough to know that and you have to look at the bigger picture."

Yet his bigger picture has changed in a way he could never have imagined back when he lived in Ireland. He did see bigger days coming, even if his grand vision never imagined Croke Park.

"I didn't see this, obviously, growing up in County Down. But the morning after the first time I played Mayo in 2011, I was on the phone to my best friend at home who I planned to go travelling with in 2013 and I said to him at that point, I can actually see this going somewhere. And we're not done yet."

Irish Independent

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