London footballers gearing up for another hectic away day in the name of the Tailteann Cup 1 month ago

London footballers gearing up for another hectic away day in the name of the Tailteann Cup

Eoin Walsh usually takes a day's annual leave on the Monday if London have an away game on the Sunday.

It's just as hectic for Saturday trips, because, against partner's wishes, it pretty much means that the Galwegian-come-Londoner, and all his team-mates, are gone for the weekend. You wouldn't be a London footballer if you didn't really want to be.

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There's another expedition this weekend and, despite late bookings, jumbled-up flights and a whole load of de-tours, the London footballers will be in Sligo on Saturday evening. And they won't be making any excuses when they line out in Markievicz Park in the first round of the Tailteann Cup.

We've all moaned about long away trips in our time, we've complained about stiff legs and tired minds but it doesn't matter if you played a game in Bally-go-backwards, you haven't faced an ordeal like the London footballers face this Saturday.

Eoin Walsh tackles Leitrim's Conor Dolan in their Connacht championship clash.
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Game-day will start out in Stansted, Gatwick or Heath-row - the bookings filled up, so the team is spread out among three different flights in three different airports - and then they'll arrive at different times in Knock airport. From there, after all the dillying and dallying that comes with the territory of airpots, a bus will take them to their hotel in Sligo and, all the while, they'll be focusing on the biggest game of their season.

"It can be long, depending on where you fly from because you're waking up early and you're travelling to the airport and then you're hanging around the airport and then you're getting a bus.

"You're getting to the hotel and you're kind of sitting down and relaxing, trying to eat something in between and to time that for the match as well and then you're getting on a bus and going to the match. Sometimes it nearly feels like it's two days but it is what it is," says Walsh, who plays corner back on the team.

 "If we had a Sunday game, we'd be doing something similar, flying out at a later time of a Saturday. I'd try and take annual leave on the Monday after the Sunday sometimes, just to give myself a chance to have the day to relax but yeah, it's the full weekend.

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"It's probably the partners that it irks a small bit more, when we're heading off for a full weekend. I'd say they might have a different comment to what I just told you," he adds with a laugh.

In a former life, Walsh was a young footballer who played minor and under-21 for Galway. Work took the Moycullen man to London, where he's a physiotherapist and even though life can be busy, even though, for some of the lads, it can be a fair-old cross-city trek to training, there's very little complaining.

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They just want to play football.

"Everybody there is there for a reason and it's kind of funny. Everyone comes to London for different reasons but the one thing that gels us and the one thing we have in common is we all love football.

"For me personally, that's what I'm trying to do, I turned 29 during the week so I probably don't have a lot of years left at what you'd call the highest level or playing inter-county and I had a bit of an underage career, U20s and stuff, but your lifespan as an inter-county player is limited and I'm just appreciating it, trying to make the most of it.

 "You've lads working outside of London, commuting in a car, coming along the busy roads, could take them longer.

"I'm lucky, only 20 minutes from Ruislip and grasshoppers (the rugby club where they train) but yeah, that is a massive test of lads commitments having to sit on a bus or tube for an hour and a half one-way - then train for an hour and a half - that's probably four hours of your evening gone by the time you get home from work - you're nearly in bed then to do it all over again.

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"So it definitely does test lads, but management have been good, they do make allowances and they give us as much planning as possible in advance to make things a bit easier for us."

This Saturday is time to cash the cheque...