Triumph of the exiles as London beat Leitrim and reach Connacht final
London’s first ever win on Irish soil after 30 years competing
London’s Seán Kelly and Danny Ryan celebrate at the final whistle of their Connacht semi-final against Leitrim
After more 30 summers of trying, the London footballers had only ever won a single game in Connacht, but next month they’ll contest the final against Mayo – stunning Leitrim at Dr Hyde Park yesterday with a first-half performance that wouldn’t have been out of place in the capital itself.
How much of this breakthrough is explained by the growth in intercounty footballers playing in exile is unclear, but it probably helped that London enjoyed the support of every other county in Ireland.
Yet London manager Paul Coggins had always planned for days like this, while others might see it as a miracle: nevertheless, after arriving at Knock airport with the team on Saturday evening, Coggins figured a 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 only just: 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 – but enough to win by a single point. Having drawn last week, and needing to travel back all over again, Coggins was particularly proud.
“Our only focus all week was this game, on this pitch, and wanting to make that final. We really, really wanted to achieve that.”
It was the first ever win for London on Irish soil, and while they’ll start as rank outsiders against Mayo, that they’ve even made it this far proves the GAA really knows no bounds.