London celebrations

Will Micahel Maher’s reign in London finally begin in 2022?

A few weeks after the installation of Michael Maher as football manager in London at the end of 2019, Dessie Farrell saw the reins of Dublin overturned.

David Power got the Tipperary job around the same time as Seamus McEnaney was installed as Monaghan’s manager, Rory Gallagher took over Derry and Padraic Joyce got the Galway job.

Farrell has since chaired over 20 National League and Championship games as Dublin manager, Power has guided Tipperary 16 times while “Banty” is 15 out, with Gallagher and Joyce 14 apiece.

Maher, meanwhile, just weeks away from the start of his third season at the helm of his native London, has only overseen five competitive matches, the last of which took place 22 months ago in the spring of 2020.

He wasn’t as unhappy as Gerry Fox, who recently resigned as New York manager without having played a single game in his two-year reign, but he still hasn’t spent nearly two seasons. championship and championship. Maher’s work specification.

Everything is going according to plan, with football finally returning to London on January 29 when they travel to face Carlow in Division 4 of the National League.

“London only tends to peak after five or six league games as we don’t have any pre-season competitions and we always catch up with the teams in Ireland a bit, so if you go back to 2020 we have felt we were in a very good position after those five games that season, ”Maher said.

“We were pretty excited about what was to come next and how we would approach the championship. We had to face Carlow and Waterford in our last two league games, but we never played again because of the pandemic. Ironically enough, we’re going to start over shortly with league games against Carlow and Waterford, so in a fun way it’s kind of like picking up where we were two years ago.

The problem, of course, is that so much has changed in the meantime. Maher lost some players and won others. Those who have been there since before the pandemic haven’t seen each other for big chunks of 2020 and 2021. He’s basically starting over from scratch and trying to reestablish a positive culture and environment after such a long separation.

Michael Maher: Has not coached a game since spring 2020. Photo: Harry Murphy / Sportsfile

As if life weren’t tough enough, the majority of his non-London players have returned to their families in Ireland for Christmas. They all go through individual training schedules and won’t cut corners, but it’s another puzzle Irish teams don’t have to plan for. For all of those counties, things have been going well since collective training was allowed to resume on December 8.

“Look, we just have a really, really positive outlook – when you’re out of action for almost two years and you’re only weeks away from games, you can only be positive,” insisted Maher.

“We have the best possible training ground at our disposal, a big back room, a big roster that we’re looking to reduce by mid-January, so we’re all really buzzing. We just can’t wait to go.

“We still have a few guys from the 2020 panel involved. A few guys have moved but in London you usually lose a few players from year to year.

“What happened with the pandemic was a few would have gone home and found the work-from-home situation to be okay with them, so they stayed but look, it’s a really positive group and there is a lot of optimism there. “

In early October, London played a selection from the rest of Britain as part of the major London GAA 125th anniversary celebrations that were held. It was their first game since they faced Wicklow on February 29, 2020. Maher praised the GAA London Board of Directors for organizing the occasion as well as the support they have given him, as well. than its players, throughout the lean period. It’s been a tough few years, but Maher’s mantra is better times ahead.

He certainly never considered packing the gig at any time.

“My God, no,” replied Maher, the first native of London to take charge of the exiles. “Please God things are not getting worse with the current Covid situation because all systems are starting over. We have written January 29 in pencil as one of the most important dates on the London GAA calendar for two years.

“I think we would all feel a sense of unfinished business because we never really started as a band in 2020. That’s just one of those things, we followed all the guidelines and did everything that we could so there is no point in looking back with any anger or regret now.