Leitrim coach Breen warns London will be no pushovers

Leitrim joint-manager Brian Breen believes his side's 'running game' will get them over the line against London in Sunday's much-anticipated Connacht SFC semi-final.

Leitrim coach Breen warns London will be no pushovers

Leitrim joint-manager Brian Breen believes his side's 'running game' will get them over the line against London in Sunday's much-anticipated Connacht SFC semi-final.

The Carrick-on-Shannon clash sees two of the Championship's lesser lights battling it out for a place in the provincial decider against defending champions Mayo on July 21.

With home advantage and a runaway first round victory over New York behind them, Leitrim are odds on favourites to reach their first Connacht senior final since 2000.

But Breen knows that London will be no pushovers. He only has to go back to April's Allianz League meeting at the same venue to see how tough an afternoon the Exiles could make it.

Having been level at half-time, Leitrim needed a Conor Beirne goal to push on and claim a 1-11 to 1-9 victory over Paul Coggins' charges. In addition, there was only a point between the sides (0-12 to 1-8) when Leitrim advanced to the Connacht semi-final stage last year.

"London's strengths are their strength and strength in numbers," Breen told the Leitrim Observer in the build-up to this weekend's game.

"Their fitness levels have gone through the roof. They are very strong down the middle so we are going to have really counteract that and bring our running game into it."

London shocked Sligo in their Championship opener last month - their first Connacht SFC win since they beat Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon back in 1977 - and Leitrim sharpshooter Emlyn Mulligan says the visitors will get the respect due to them on Sunday.

"We know a lot about London, they have a lot of quality footballers, ex-county footballers of a high enough standard and we'll not be taking anything for granted," said the team captain, who shot 3-7 against New York.

"I think that the one thing playing for Leitrim, we know the likes of London are capable of beating us and I suppose they mightn't have got the same respect from other counties in Connacht.

"We'll give them every bit of respect but at the same time, we have to concentrate on ourselves, the boys are flying fit, they are in great shape at the moment - as well as I've seen them in the last number of years."

Breen and George Dugdale have made five changes to the side that triumphed in the Big Apple, with Brendan Brennan, Barry Prior, Enda Williams, Paddy McGowan and Ciaran Egan all starting.

Paddy Maguire and Gerry Hickey are out injured, while the quartet dropped recently for disciplinary reasons - Wayne McKeon, Tomas Beirne, Conor Beirne and Shane Moran - also weakens the hosts' hand.

However, Aughawillan clubman Prior will bring experience to the half-back line alongside ex-Longford player Williams and Gortletteragh's Egan offers a solid presence at full-back.

It will be Brendan Brennan's first Championship start in midfield. He was used a substitute in the 2003 extra-time win over New York.

Brendan and wing forward Paul Brennan will be become the first set of brothers to play for Leitrim since Michael and Philly McGuinness did so against Roscommon in 2009.

Former Galway attacker Paul Geraghty has been named at full-forward in the London team for the trip across the Irish Sea.

London boss Coggins has made two changes in personnel from the Sligo game, bringing in Geraghty for Ciaran McCallion and Philip Butler from Tir Chonaill Gaels gets the nod at right corner back.

Meanwhile, local councillors Enda Stenson and Gerry Dolan have received a letter from Buckingham Palace politely declining their invitation for Queen Elizabeth to attend Sunday's semi-final.

Leitrim County Council Chairman Stenson's initial invitation to London Mayor Boris Johnson - who has not responded - was also forwarded on to the Queen's secretary who promptly replied to their request.

On a letter dated June 5, Helen Cross wrote: "The Queen has asked me to thank you for your letter of June 4 in which you invited her Majesty to Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday, June 23 for the football match that afternoon.

"I am afraid the Queen is unable to accept your kind invitation."

LEITRIM (SFC v London): Cathal McCrann; Alan Wynne, Ciaran Egan, Gary Reynolds; Daniel Beck, Enda Williams, Barry Prior; Darren Sweeney, Brendan Brennan; Paul Brennan, Emlyn Mulligan, Paddy McGowan; Kevin Conlan, James Glancy, Robbie Lowe.

LONDON: Declan Traynor; Philip Butler, Stephen Curran, David McGreevy; Seamus Hannon, Shane Mulligan, Tony Gaughan; Mark Gottsche, Caolan Doyle; Greg Crowley, Lorcan Mulvey, Barry Mitchell; Padraig McGoldrick, Paul Geraghty, Cathal Magee.

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