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Greg Crowley from The Downs: 選t was a big help at first

Tuesday, 31st December, 2013 3:20pm
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Greg Crowley from The Downs: 選t was a big help at first

Greg Crowley from The Downs in action for London.

Greg Crowley from The Downs: 選t was a big help at first

Greg Crowley from The Downs in action for London.

Greg Crowley from The Downs: ‘It was a big help at first

When Greg Crowley from The Downs emigrated to London two years ago, the last thing he expected was to end up playing in Croke Park.

Half forward Greg was a central part of the London team who created history by reaching the Connacht final when they defeated Leitrim and Sligo in the preliminary rounds. While the Exiles were comprehensively beaten by eventual all-Ireland finalists Mayo in the provincial decider and bowed out of the championship after being defeated by Cavan in the all-Ireland qualifiers, London’s progress was one of the stories of this summer.

“I never anticipated playing at that level. I was hoping to play for London but it turned into an unforgettable year,” says Greg, who plays for north London club Parnell’s – the same club as former Westmeath hurling captain Brian Smith.

Reflected in the performances of the London team this summer, the GAA in London and the rest of England is enjoying something of a revival – one of the more positive effects of the recession. With so many young men and women forced to emigrate to English cities such as London and Manchester in search of work, Greg says it is inevitable that the English GAA community will reap the rewards.

“Most lads that are playing here are in their early to mid-20s and are in their prime. At home you often have lads in their teens and mid-30s playing. Most of the lads are at the height of their careers here and the standard is really good.

“While there are only eight senior clubs in the championship, most have a number of players that have played inter-county in Ireland and the reality is that there are so many lads coming over all the time that the standard is only going to continue to improve.”

Currently working in accounts for a firm in London, Greg says that unless things improve in Ireland it is “highly unlikely” he will be returning home in 2014. If he does stay in the English capital, he would love to help London continue its upward trajectory in the coming season.

“I knew I would play football during my stay in London and know that it would not have been near as enjoyable without it. It’s a great social outlet, going to training and meeting the lads. When I came over first it was a big help.”

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