London captain Seamus Hannon says yesterday’s victory over Sligo comes as no surprise to their squad, and they’re planning a repeat performance in Carrick-on-Shannon next month.
Hannon was influential at wing-back as the Exiles recorded their first Connacht Championship victory since 1977, but the Longford native says they already have their eyes fixed on their June 23 date with Leitrim and are determined to reach a provincial final for the first time.
“We’d know them well from playing them in the league and in last year’s championship [which Leitrim won by a point],” said Hannon.
“There’d be no love lost between us, that’s for sure. We’re going into a bit of a caldron there in Carrick. It’ll be a tight, tough game but we certainly won’t be afraid of them. We know what we have to offer.”
London have pushed both Mayo and Leitrim close in recent years but their disrupted preparations to this season’s championship looked to have ended their hopes of causing a shock.
Forced to play club championship games in February as a result of the ‘Seanie Johnston Rule’, London were then denied the opportunity of challenge games between the league and championship because of a ban on teams travelling ‘abroad’ more than 13 days prior to their opening match.
“These are rules that Croke Park made,” said Hannon. “They made their decision and all we could do was get on with it. There’s no point crying about it.
“As soon as the GAA made their decision it was dealt with. Whatever they throw at us, and they can keep throwing it, we’ll keep driving on.”
When Hannon first moved over to London he travelled home to play club games, but a quick chat with manager Paul Coggins convinced him to throw in his lot with his adopted county.
“The passion that man has for the game is infectious,” said the 25-year-old. “When I joined up with London and met the lads, I’ve never enjoyed my football as much. I’ve made friends for life here.
“Paul is always talking about building a house and laying the foundations bit by bit, and that’s what we’ve done over the past few years. I’ve massive respect for that jersey. You could see that in all the players today; they really wanted it. This win means so much.”
London were forced to withstand a late Sligo rally and were hugely fortunate to see Mark Breheny’s fisted effort hit the bar at the death, but Hannon says his side were deserved winners.
“We’ve put in a phenomenal effort since the start of the year,” he said. “I felt we were better than the result showed; we probably sat back a little too much towards the end. We were at least a couple of points better than Sligo today. Thankfully we held on. I like to think you get what you deserve in the end.”
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