Coggins: ‘We showed that we can compete against the top teams’

Coggins: ‘We showed that we can compete against the top teams’

BRINGING a sense of passion and purpose to the Connacht Senior Football Championship is what London seek to do under Paul Coggins.

The Exiles' were spirited until the end at Ruislip on Sunday, but a seven point loss meant London went away reflecting and wondering about 15 costly wides.  That was a statistic which will be deliberated on because London weren't sufficiently clinical to cause a shock.

Roscommon accomplished the mission they set themselves of plundering a win at what manager John Evans termed a ‘Gala occasion more than anything else’.  The stirring sight of the Roscommon players making their way through the crowds from the team bus to the dressing room offered a glimpse of the hope and burning desire which currently exists in the western county.

As the 3,000 spectators enjoyed the party Coggins spoke about how London can continue to develop. “We have to drive on from this,” Coggins said. “We can take great heart from it. We showed what we can do and that we can compete against the top teams.  We have done it again.

“It won't be case of going back to the drawing board. We need to keep working hard. We are happy enough, it won't be hard at all to come out again for the next game.”

Now London must wait for the All Ireland qualifiers draw to be made so staying fit and focused is critical according to Coggins.  “We just have to keep at it over the next three to four weeks. These lads will and we will improve. If we get a nice enough draw we are improving all of the time. I'm happy enough with that even though I'm disappointed with the result.

“We can be confident going into the qualifiers, but every day is different. This was a day when the lads gave their all. I think Roscommon and the people of Roscommon saw that the lads worked tremendously hard. I felt it was the case.

“It would be nice to get a home draw. It is always a bonus. I hope they don't close it yet; they'll have to keep it open,” Coggins joked about the possibility of another inter-county fixture or two being staged at the Emerald GAA Grounds before the refurbishment work starts.

Against Roscommon the wides London registered, though, were costly.  “We created so many chances,” Coggins reflected. “We had a big wind there, maybe nerves played a part. Unfortunately you cannot control that too much.  It was a big amount of wides to have, but it shows how much of the ball we had.”

London's Alan O'Hara and Roscommon's Neil Collins and Seanie McDermott in action during Sunday's clash at Ruislip. Photo: Malcolm McNally. London's Alan O'Hara and Roscommon's Neil Collins and Seanie McDermott in action during Sunday's clash at Ruislip. Photo: Malcolm McNally.

Roscommon manager John Evans paid tribute to London and Coggins.  “There were a lot of missed scores and missed chances. We came to do a job and we did. I want to talk about London and I think that they deserve a lot of credit. They kept going and you could see that they are still very enthusiastic under Paul Coggins

“He kept at them. They kept trying and trying and trying. They kept us to 15 scores and they scored 10 themselves. They can be very proud of their game.”

Coggins was adamant that ‘it was a very good performance’ as the underdogs snapped during the contest.  “The effort and energy and discipline was there. We were given no chance whatsoever. We weren't even a banana skin. It should have been a lot closer.

“We missed our chances. That was the major thing. There were probably other areas too. In the first half we probably didn't win as much ball as we would have liked. I think conceding 15 scores against Roscommon isn't the end of the world. Defensively we did well, but we just didn't score enough. We got into double figures, but we didn't score enough. It is over now. The lads gave their best, we will look to improve.

“Brian Collins did a great job, they all did mighty. The full back line was very, very good. Senan Kilbride was taken off, Roscommon do have plenty of good forwards to come on anyway. It was a good performance by our defence.”

The decision to brandish a black card to Cathal Og Greene in the 22nd minute brought a drop of controversy.  “He felt the black card had to be done,” Coggins said about referee Eddie Kinsella’s call. “He thought it was a straightforward one, I don't know. When you look at matches at home you see it happen so many times, he could have had a quick word in his ear. It was disappointing for Cathal Og. It didn't disrupt us too much because we had good lads to come on. The ref might have got a couple of decisions wrong, but so did I. These things happen.”

Roscommon were relieved to have escaped from west London to set up a provincial semi-final meeting with Sligo.  “On our own side certainly coming over here it is more or less a Gala occasion more than anything else,” Evans said. “It was the first round of the Championship for us. It was a run out and there were some very good passages of play. The tackling was very, very strong. We have come away without any serious knocks. It was a bit physical alright, but again I think it was predominantly a case of missed chances.

“Full credit to London, I thought they were very passionate about it. Their tackling, energy, and workrate was superb. You cannot ask for any more than that.”