‘They’re no longer the whipping boys of Connacht’
London manager Paul Goggins thrilled to see his side hold on against late onslaught
The London subs celebrate their win over Leitrim at the final whistle. Photograph: Inpho
Paul Coggins may or may not believe in miracles, but after arriving with the London team to Knock Airport on Saturday, he figured a quick visit to the old shrine wouldn’t do them any harm.
“Something must have happened there, in the end,” he said, “because thank God we were able to hold on.”
Hold on London did, but how is another story: they outscored Leitrim 2-10 to 0-2 in the first half, then held on as Leitrim outscored them 1-11 to 0-1 in the second half, London’s sole point being a free, on 43 minutes, for Lorcan Mulvey.
“It’s difficult to explain alright,” said Coggins.
“I mean we went in a half time, and knew the game wasn’t over in any shape or form, because there was a very strong wind.You try to keep players’ minds on that. They put in so much work in the first half, emptied the tank, really, and maybe just found it more difficult to get into the game in the second half.
“But at the same time Leitrim gave it absolutely everything, emptied the tank too, exactly the same as we did in the first half. And that’s it. Two teams going for it in a very exciting game.
“But look, every inch of effort our lads made over the year came through in the end. We didn’t want to concede a second goal. That was the major thing. Once they got a goal, in that time left, it would have been trouble, because our backs were definitely to the wall”.
“But I have to give great credit to Leitrim. It was a superb second half by them. We had the superb first half, and that extra point on the board, in the end.”
As for who or what awaits them in the final Coggins didn’t need or want to go there, not yet anyway: “Sure we’ll think about Mayo from tomorrow. We’re in the Connacht final, and of course we intend on giving it our best shot. We’ll train hard again. We all know how good a team Mayo are, but we’ll go in there in a competitive spirit. That’s what we’re about.”
It was left to George Dugdale, Leitrim co-manager with Barney Breen, to explain how it went so wrong then so nearly right for them, and he had the pale face to prove the shock of it all.
“Oh yeah, it was mystifying, how far we were off the pace. It wasn’t like we weren’t ready for it. So I don’t know what happened. I think one thing lead to another, and that spread like a disease through the team in the first half. It was a huge gap to close, but the lads fought hard, gave it everything and had a chance to equalise in the end. We didn’t take it.
“And good luck to London. They’re no longer the whipping boys of Connacht. They’ve been working very hard over the last few years. They’ve beaten Sligo, and now us, but we’ve never had it easy against London. This was another Titanic battle, and it was their day. I hope they now do themselves credit in the final.”