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London to Galway in pursuit of challenges

By Micheal McGeary

For John McCloskey it’s a case of from the bright lights of London to the fields of Athenry.

The chance of meeting up with big Joe Kernan in Galway was too good an opportunity to turn down after a thoroughly enjoyable season with top London rugby side Wasps.

Belfast man McCloskey, a highly respected coach, is still based in the English capital and continues to commute between London and Galway.

“I live in Richmond and between buses and trains it takes me close on two and a half hours to get to Luton Airport (for the Galway flight).

“It would be much easier for me to get to Heathrow,” he said.

Although no longer on a full time contract with Wasps he will continue on a consultative basis.

“The timing was right for me to move on. It’s not often you get a chance to work with one of the best teams in the south of Ireland. Becoming involved with Wasps was as much to do with the experience of working in another sport at a very high level.

“My season with Wasps was as much a test of character as anything else and I believe I’ve emerged a better coach.”

McCloskey is perhaps best remembered for his role as trainer when Armagh landed the Sam Maguire in 2002.

Before that he had worked with Down and enjoyed Sigerson Cup success with Queen’s University.

He was a man with the midas touch, also being involved in Crossmaglen Rangers’ All Ireland club success and more recently was Derry trainer when they enjoyed Allianz League glory.

You sense that some day he may actually venture into management, but for now his whole focus is on Galway’s championship clash with Mayo or Sligo on June 27.

For McCloskey and big Joe it’s an opportunity to eradicate failings that almost led to their undoing against New York last month.

Kernan is keeping his fingers crossed that midfielder Niall Coleman will be fit after he was forced to leave the field in a club championship match.

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