NEWLY-APPOINTED joint Leitrim manager Brian Breen will lead his side into battle in familiar territory next summer when they begin their Connacht SFC campaign against London.
Breen, who’s been joined on the Leitrim management ticket by George Dugdale, spent several seasons playing for London club Tir Chonaill Gaels in the ’80s and has since maintained a close connection with the club.
London manager Paul Coggins is also a member of the Greenford-based club and the pair will face off for their championship opener in Ruislip on June 3.
The sides are also scheduled to meet on March 11 in Division Four of the Allianz Football League in Leitrim.
“I keep in touch with a lot of the lads involved with Tir Chonaill Gaels. I still have a lot of fondness for the club and for London,” said Breen, who was a member of the Leitrim team that famously won the Connacht SFC title in 1994.
Having served as selectors under Mickey Moran, Breen and Dugdale accepted the Leitrim manager’s job last weekend after Moran was forced to step down due to ill health.
“Any time we’re in London I call out to Greenford,” said Breen. “I organised the warm-up for the Leitrim team there for before the league game last year that didn’t go ahead in the end.”
According to Breen, London will view a home game against Leitrim as an ideal draw. He said: “I think London identify Leitrim every year as a target in the championship.
“It’s a game they’ll feel they can win and that’s something we’re aware of, so we won’t be going into the game under any illusions.
“As someone who has lived in London, I understand the problems they have in terms of getting lads to training when they’re travelling from all over the city.
“But we have the same problem in Leitrim because half of our team are based in Dublin. Others are in college in Galway so only about a third of the team are in Leitrim.
“We’re also losing players at the moment, while London seem to be gaining them. We’re already down nine players from last year’s championship team because of emigration and work commitments.
“Four of our six backs from last year have either gone, or are going, to Australia. That’s a fact.”