London manager Ciaran Deeley
The leadership and experience former Tyrone All-Ireland winner Eoin Mulligan will bring to London’s challenge next Sunday is invaluable according to manager Ciaran Deely.
As London plot Leitrim’s downfall in McGovern Park in Ruislip next Sunday, much of the pre-match talk has been of the involvement of Mulligan and former Dublin U21 captain Kevin O’Brien in the Exiles squad.
And while manager Ciaran Deely is delighted with their experience, the former Wexford players doesn’t see them being involved next Sunday - “Kevin O’Brien from Dublin has come in to a few sessions but I don’t really think he will feature, I don’t think he is up to the level at the moment, maybe for our second game.
“Eoin will have to fight to get into the squad. I believe he is 35 going on 36. I don’t know about playing because the sharpness wouldn’t be there. He has been playing with his club but going from club, transitioning into inter-county championship is a whole different ball game.
“So I don’t know as regards playing in a high intensity championship game, is he up to that level? But he is in relatively good shape and just has that level of experience.”
Yet Ciaran is relishing the experience and know-how the Tyrone star brings to the London squad - “I met Eoin a couple of months ago down in Clapham and I spoke to them about potentially coming into the squad and getting involved, even just helping the younger lads and some of the London born chaps in around the squad.
“Thankfully, he agreed and has come in since the end of the League and I have to say as a fella, he has been absolutely fantastic. I think anyone who has dealt with him down through the years, there is no airs and graces about him, he has come into the London set-up and at times we are training on a rugby 4G pitch, at times in the centre of an athletics track and at no stage did he have a moan or complain.
“As a fella, we’re delighted with him. I suppose he has brought a lot of experience and from our point of view, if the only thing he brings is a bit of advice for the younger lads and stuff like that, we’re happy with that.
“He chats to the lads about what it takes to win a championship game, little things as a forward that you can do to shake off your man and to win the ball. You will see that as the ball is played into Eoin, the ball sticks, even at this age.
“He is involved in the sessions, we speak quite a lot, myself and Eoin we speak on the phone about the sessions and trying to get him involved in that side of things. He is togging out every night and participating but at all times, he is often chipping in with advice and helping out.”