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Lee Keegan Recalls Mayo's Unprofessional Approach Before London Scare In 2011

Lee Keegan Recalls Mayo's Unprofessional Approach Before London Scare In 2011
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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It is always a big story when London or New York come close to a championship scalp. The Exiles have managed to pull it off on a few occasions down through the years, most notably in their run to the Connacht final back in 2013.

There have been some famous games involving those two teams against quality opposition, with London's game against Mayo in 2011 chief amongst them. On that occasion, James Horan's side looked to be on the verge of losing in Ruislip, only to get a couple of late scores and send the contest to extra-time. They would ultimately go on to win by three points.

It was certainly quite the scare for Mayo during Horan's first season in charge, with that side going on to establish themselves as All-Ireland contenders in the years that followed.


As it turned out, the lessons learned in that game may have actually helped them reach that status.

Lee Keegan recalls unprofessional Mayo approach in London

Lee Keegan was part of the Mayo panel for the first time that year, and while he did not feature in this game, he does remember the rather unprofessional approach that many players had in the buildup to the fixture.

Writing in his column for RTÉ, he recalled how everything from the travel plans to pre-match nutrition was well short of the expected standards.

From the start to finish, it was an absolute s***show. And yet in the end, in a strange way, it wound up being the greatest lesson we ever got as a team. A reminder of how to prepare properly and never ever take a team for granted.

The logistics were a nightmare. Instead of taking the most straightforward route, we took the cheapest route. We ended up flying from Galway to Waterford, then Waterford to Southend. So, two flights.

Then we had a three-hour bus journey to the hotel in Watford on top of that. Even waiting for the flights, lads were eating chips and ice-creams. The day before the game, James met a gang of our lads coming out of the shop in Watford with Magnum ice-creams and jellies and chocolate and whatnot. All in all, it didn't scream elite high performance.

That set the tone for the weekend. It was seen as a trip of leisure rather than a trip of work.

When we got into Ruislip on Sunday, it was just a carnival. There was a smell of barbecue, pints of Bulmers (or Magners?) were being gulped down by the spectators, most of whom were in Mayo tops. It had a real festival feel...

They should have won it. With less than ten minutes remaining, we were two points down and scores had been very hard to come-by...

We never took London for granted again. Or New York, for that matter. By God, we prepped for every game after that. It was a great life lesson.

Keegan credit the experience of this game as a driving factor in the success Mayo would experience in the years that followed.

You certainly get the sense that counties no longer take the likes of London or New York for granted in these fixtures.

SEE ALSO: Explained - The GAA's New All-Ireland Football Championship Format

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