CIARAN DEELY applauded the strength of character his London side showed in pulling through testing conditions against Waterford on Sunday.
London scored three injury-time points to snatch a last-gasp win in Fraher Field, the first of their 2016 National Football League Division 4 campaign.
After losing narrowly to Carlow and Antrim in earlier rounds, Deely sensed that a first positive result under his stewardship was imminent.
“We have competed in every game this year so far, other than the Wexford game,” he said. At half-time, we were up by a point and against a strong wind, but we have some very good runners with the ball like Liam Gavaghan, Mark Gottsche and Lorcan Mulvey.
“We always knew that if we kept with them right until the end we would have a chance. This team has been beaten again and again and yet they still come back to the well. To get the last three scores shows big character.”
London have now beaten Waterford on four occasions and drawn twice in seven NFL meetings since 2009, and Deely claims the Exiles usually peak around this time of the year.
“If you look back at the results, we always tend to come good near the end of the league. Our first league games are like an O’Byrne Cup or McKenna Cup game because we don’t have any pre-season games and we have difficulty getting lads out before Christmas.
“We are only really catching up now in terms of fitness. One of these years we hope that we can make a good start in the league but for the moment, we’ll try and build on this win.”
Deely denied that the win brought relief after a sequence of five straight defeats.
“I wouldn’t say relief,” he said. “It’s always in the back of your mind that, even though we were competing in each of the games, that we may go through a league campaign without a win.
“That means you have to change the team a lot more and perhaps question part of your approach, so it’s nice to get a win because it reaffirms that the staff and the players are along the right road.”
Next up for London is the visit of Wicklow this weekend and Deely says they’ll be going all out for another win over an Irish side.
“It shouldn’t be understated [beating an Irish side] because all these teams have better facilities, better funding and more access to players.
“Like all the other teams in Division 4, Wicklow be well set-up and well organised and physical. They have a few good forwards so it will be another tough battle for us but we’ll be looking for another big performance.”