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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019

From Chelsea to Slaughtneil: A Londoner's quest to reach an All-Ireland semi-final

St Kiernan’s captain Adrian Moyles is targeting a win over Slaughtneil tomorrow to make history.

EVEN THOUGH HE was born and raised in London, Adrian Moyles made sure not to forget his Mayo roots from a young age.

The St Kiernan’s captain was picked up by Chelsea in his teens and made his way up through the youth ranks, where he was once managed by Brendan Rogers.

Moyles then went on to play for QPR and Brentford, and also spent some time at Real Zaragoza.

He was approached by both England and Ireland at underage level, but he there never a doubt as to who he would declare for. He donned the green of Ireland as a teenager for some time, where James McCarthy was a teammate.

Eventually, Moyles decided that a life in professional football wasn’t for him. As he said himself – “I picked up an O’Neills before I ever kicked a soccer ball.”

Since then, he’s religiously been lining out with his club St Kiernan’s, and also with London. This year sees Moyles as captain, and hoping to lead his side to history – to become the first London club to reach the All-Ireland semi-final.

GAA Source: Malcolm McNally/Irish Post

A strong force stands in their way tomorrow however, in the form of Ulster kingpins Slaughtneil.

“No London team has managed to make the breakthrough yet into the semi finals, so it just gives us added insentive to be the first team to do that,” he says in a video launched by AIB ahead of the decider.

“For the club, this is absolutely the biggest game we’ve ever played in, and probably the proudest one we’ll ever play in as well.”

Source: AIB Bank/YouTube

In the video, he also speaks about how it’s difficult to play gaelic football in London, between commitment and other issues.

“We train at a rugby club. It’s one of the very few places we can get access to floodlights and a set of posts which resemble a pair of gaelic posts.”

St Kiernan’s have no less than eight London born players in the team, and if they were to beat Slaughtneil it would go down as one of the biggest shocks in the history of the tournament.

The south Derry side beat Kilcoo two weeks ago to claim their second Ulster title, and complete an incredible club treble – an Ulster clean sweep in football, hurling and camogie.

Mickey Moran’s charges produced a solid display in the provincial final and have yet to concede a goal in their seven championship matches, leaving a tough task ahead of Moyles’ St Kiernan’s.

Having won their first London title this year and stopping Tir Chonaill Gaels’ reign, it’s an occasion he is relishing however, and has no doubt in his side’s ability to cause another upset.

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Emma Duffy

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