THE London GAA story is predominantly about courage and commitment. Coping with adversity; dealing quickly with the problems which arise. Unsurprisingly Dave McGreevy continues to occupy a prominent role for the Exiles.
McGreevy usually is burdened with policing whatever marquee forward London are facing. That is just the way it is. Life in London is a constant challenge, but McGreevy is ready, willing, and able to embrace whatever task Paul Coggins sets him.
When asked about whether playing for London can be taxing McGreevy’s response is refreshing. “This is my fifth year playing for London so it is second nature at this stage. If you didn’t love it you wouldn’t do it. I do love it. Now I don’t even think twice about it.
“There are plenty of guys at home making a big enough commitment with the county. I love it; if I didn’t love it I wouldn’t do it.”
So last month following the Connacht Championship defeat to Roscommon a thought struck McGreevy. There is a deep, almost inexplicable respect between London players past and present. “There is always a big turnover of players, but it is always good having guys come in. I’ve played with plenty of characters over the years here. It is always nice to chat with people.
“After the Roscommon game I was talking to relatives of guys I played with before. It is good having that banter with them telling different stories about things that happened at training over the years. It is good meeting different people.”
One person more than any other continues to cajole and inspire: Paul Coggins. McGreevy smiles when Coggins is mentioned. “He still calls me McCreevy,” the Kingdom Kerry Gaels defender laughs. “He has even told me he knows my name is McGreevy. Paul is brilliant. He has an infectious personality. He knows how to get you going for every game. When he came in that was when I first came into London.
“You do feel that bond. I’m five years here now. It is no problem coming to training because you know Paul will have a professional set up. He will do everything he can to make sure everything is going 100per cent. If you ever have a conversation with him you know he has an infectious personality; he can motivate you no matter what.”
Reflecting on the Roscommon game McGreevy accepts that for all London’s defiance regrets are still nursed. “The wides probably tell their own story. We probably could have stopped them scoring a few. For myself I felt a bit of nerves going into the game. Two minutes in I was ready to go. I made a silly fumble early on, but after that I had my game head on and got going. That seemed to be the same for a lot of our boys.
“Roscommon will be in Division One next year; we certainly competed against them. If we had been a bit more clinical we could have beaten them.”
Two years ago six days after losing a provincial final to Mayo at Castlebar London faced Cavan at Croke Park. McGreevy admits there will be a strange kind of comfort in playing at Ruislip compared to GAA headquarters. “We are looking forward to it. We have played them a couple of times in the past few years since I’ve been playing for London. It will be good to test ourselves against them.
“The last competitive match we had against them was at Croker. It is some change to be playing them at Croker compared to Ruislip. It is meant to be the last day at the old Ruislip. We’ve plenty of happy memories from Ruislip so it would be nice to go out with one more memory of it.”
Former London selector Kevin Downes, now involved with Cavan, will have the visitors in good shape according to McGreevy. “Downsey is with Cavan this year. He was here with us for four years. He will have them guys going well. They were in Division Two; they are a good team. Cavan are a decent team with some very good players. We will have to hit the ground running.”
That is precisely what London did in the fabled summer of 2013, but McGreevy thinks that the team and set up has progressed significantly under Coggins’ stewardship.
“Momentum is such a big thing. If one thing goes right the next thing goes right. That particular time everything just clicked into place.
“In my first season we nearly beat Mayo. Looking at that team from five years ago comparing it to what it is no it is a world apart. We have so many better players. This season you have the likes of Ciaran Deely working with us. The man is working with QPR; you cannot get much more professional than that. It is getting better every year.
“Two years ago we got momentum. Now I feel we are equally as good as a team if not better so it is just about getting the right breaks now.
“I remember in my first season we were getting absolutely destroyed by teams. At that stage I think we were nearly looking to be half competitive with them. This year take out the Longford game we were in every other match.
“I don’t know what happened in that Longford game. For whatever reason things just didn’t click. The next game we were against Antrim we showed we had the character. There is no lack of character in this team.” Few would dispute that assertion - especially when the highly respected McGreevy is available for selection.