As the final whistle sounded on Sunday afternoon, Paul Coggins sunk to the sodden Ruislip turf.
Yet again, his Connacht Championship dreams had come a cropper at the hands of Leitrim. The losses as a player in 1997 and 2002 hurt, but not as much as this latest meeting. The Exiles led for 30 minutes of the second-half, and 50 in total, but were undone by a late Leitrim rally. The 35-year wait for a provincial win goes on.
“We’re desperately disappointed,” said Coggins. “It’s hard to put it into words. The boys gave it everything they had. We had our chances in the first-half, maybe if we’d taken our time and converted those things would be different.
“Our season isn’t over yet. We’ve a lot to look forward to. To run a county from Connacht after all the changes we’ve had this year is a credit to the lads. We’re pleased that we brought it that far, but disappointed we couldn’t make the breakthrough.”
The Roscommon native had emphasised the importance of the first and last five minutes of the opening half. His players responded, but their early dominance yielded just one point and five wides.
London hit 1-3 in the final five minutes, the unfortunate Padraig McGoldrick netting before being promptly substituted, but a three-point lead was never likely to be enough when factoring the strong wind that favoured Leitrim in the second half.
“We gave it everything,” said Coggins. “We competed. We just needed that little bit of composure. It’s easy to say it though. Those lads are under pressure and the first few minutes of the game are always difficult.
“We came back and finished the first-half strongly. Poor Padraig, he’s probably the first man to be substituted after scoring a goal. We had to make that decision because we’d made it already. It was a super goal but we felt we had to make some changes at that point.
“We’ve got try and lift things now for the qualifiers, and we will. Those lads have given a commitment to carry on. We’re just sorry for the people and Gaels of London that we missed out by a kick of a ball.
“We have to take the positives out of that performance. Leitrim are a good team. They worked very hard too and you have to give them their due.”