IT is summer time so the living is that little bit easier for the London footballers. From here on it is knockout fare for the Exiles. Paul Coggins is expecting a fierce and physical battle when Cavan enter The Emerald GAA Grounds on Saturday.
“There is a Championship feel about the place at the moment,” Coggins says. “This is knockout. None of us want this to end I hope. I know I don’t. I love the training and being part of this group.
“I think they are a very special bunch of people the backroom and the players. On a lovely evening getting ready for a Championship match it certainly gives you a lift. It is easier and more enjoyable than at the back end of winter when you are trying to sludge through mud. This is what life is about.”
Cavan came within a whisker of toppling a fancied Monaghan outfit in Ulster so Coggins wants London’s players ‘to deliver a performance of a lifetime’. That is what will be required. “We are looking forward to it hugely. Out here on a lovely evening you couldn’t be happier. A good breeze in Ruislip as per normal, we are just trying to work as hard as we can to give the huge performance we know is in us.
“We are going to have to. As I’ve said before it is another big, big game against a good team, who have performed well in Division Two. They also performed well in the Ulster Championship against Monaghan, but we are concentrating on our own preparation.
“The lads know it is a good challenge, but they are really looking forward to it. You have to meet the challenge. We have a good record here. That will count for nothing unless the lads stand up on the day. That is what I’m here to do – to make sure they stand up on the day by giving the performance of a lifetime.
“You have got an opportunity to perform. Ten years from now there will be other people here. This is our time, we enjoy it even though I don’t expect the game to be enjoyable.
“Ciaran Deely mentioned that at training. He said this is not going to be an enjoyable game. It is going to be absolute hell; that is the way it is going to be. That is the way we have to make sure it is. Anybody who doesn’t want to know about that will be of no use to this London team. We know what Cavan are going to bring to the table so we cannot disappoint them. It isn’t going to be an enjoyable game; it is going to be a real war with both teams playing for their lives.”
Coggins’ desire for the London cause remains as passionate as ever. “You get new guys in. That is great. You always look at the disadvantage of so many new guys coming in, but they are usually great guys. It is very seldom there is a bad guy because a bad guy won’t last long with us.
“You see that fairly quickly. I’ve a great desire for London to do well. A couple of things talked about by a certain person recently would give us that little bit more to go on, but we cannot read too much into that.
“London is a great football county. I played for them, now I manage them. Over the years there have been some great London people. I think why not have a desire to be the best we can be over here.
“We work hard. You can only be competitive if you work hard. We are looking at performance, performance, performance. Most counties will tell you that. They know London give big performances in games.
“If we are beaten because we aren’t good enough so be it, but it won’t be because we lack fight or preparation. We do the right things. Anybody who is ignorant of those facts is wrong. People should come to watch us or come to watch how we train. They’ll know what we are about.”
Two years ago six days after London lost a Connacht final to Mayo the Exiles were beaten in a round four qualifier by Cavan at Croke Park. Coggins has proud memories of that defiant display. “It was tough having played the Connacht final only six days previously. We gave them a great game. We were ahead in the first half; Paul Geraghty got a great goal. It was a fantastic day. That was a fantastic performance by the lads altogether. Some of the lads probably ran out of puff.
“It was one of the best if not the best of the season. It was on a big pitch; our first time there six days after the Connacht final. We played in Castlebar on the Sunday, we didn’t come back until the Monday night. We had very little preparation.
“We had to travel again on the Friday so we only had one training session that week. That was just a recovery. We know we can compete against Cavan. We can only compete if the attitude is correct. That kind of attitude that team had at the time they were just buzzing. They weren’t interested in losing matches. We were on a run.
“This team is the same. They just need to get that victory. We built up a head of steam. I think the performance against Roscommon even though we didn’t win the game has helped us. It has put belief into the squad that we can perform to the best of our ability. We still have a few injuries, but we have a good big squad. Lorcan (Mulvey) got a knock so he is an injury doubt. We will respect Cavan totally, but we have no fear. We will give it the best we can.”