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Mulligan's experience boosts young squad, says London boss


By Donnchadh Boyle

London manager Ciaran Deely has confirmed that former Tyrone star Owen Mulligan is training with his side but is unsure as to what role he can play in their championship opener against Leitrim in just over four weeks.

Leitrim come to Ruislip on May 28 for their Connacht Championship clash but Deely admits that 35-year-old Mulligan - who lined out in a club hurling match to confirm his eligibility for the Exiles - has work to do if he's to feature in that game.

"He keeps himself in very good shape, that hasn't changed since his Tyrone days," Deely said of his new recruit.

"He played obviously to get registered and he has played one game with Fulham and he'll have another one again this weekend," he added.

"I don't know (if he'll be ready to play against Leitrim), that's the honest answer.

"He has a lot of work to do to catch up with the other lads who have been training right throughout the league and since January.

"We've no challenge games in that time other than a few 'A' versus 'B' games that we have pencilled in so we'll see where it brings us.

"But you can still see some little flashes, he's still got a good dummy solo and the hop so we'll see how it goes."

Wexford native Deely reckons his presence alone is a boost to the group.

"I'd heard he was coming to London a number of months ago and I went and met him in Clapham and asked him would he be interested in getting involved in some capacity," he explained.

"Since the league he's been training as part of the group. His fitness and touch is a bit off but even to have him in and around the group is great because we've a lot of young lads."

Deely's side endured a tough league campaign, winning just one of their seven matches.

Their cause wasn't helped by having to play all of their games away from home while Ruislip was being redeveloped but they can still call on the likes of Mark Gottsche and Adrian Moyles.

Interestingly, Deely's men are captained by a London-born player in Liam Gavaghan. And Deely hopes to have more home-grown players featuring for them in the future.

Eight 'natives' are part of his squad just now with anywhere between three and five of them featuring on match days.

And Deely insists they hold the key to a sustainable future for London.

"I think it's important for the long-term viability that we have London-born players in," he explained.

"It was something that Paul Coggins did a lot of and we're doing it now too, pushing the London-born players forward," he added.

They lost to championship opponents Leitrim by seven points when they met in the league in Carrick-on-Shannon but Deely insists they learned a lot from their league campaign despite the run of defeats.

"We made a lot of changes for the Leitrim game and gave a few guys a run because it was also the weekend of the British Universities," said the London manager.

"We'd like to have won more games and we tried a few things towards the end of the league but overall we'd have to say we got plenty from the league," he added.

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