Interview: Adrian Hanlon hopes Donegal trio can lead the line for TCG in London SFC final

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TÍR CHONAILL GAELS are a club that have had a Donegal influence running through their veins since their foundation back in 1962.

On Sunday, the Greenford based side take on St Kieran’s at the Irish TV Grounds in Ruislip in the London SFC (throw-in 1:30pm) and just might start with three Donegal men in the full-foward line.

Adrian Hanlon from Dungloe, Kilcar’s Ashley Carr and Seamus ‘Nanny’ Friel of Gaeil Fhánada are the trio as the curtain finally comes down on the competition.

Photo caption: The Tír Chonaill Gaels panel before their London SFC semi-final victory against Kingdom of Kerry Gaels earlier this month

Now 29, Hanlon started Jim McGuinness’s first championship game as Donegal manager in 2011 against Antrim and as well as winning the Anglo-Celt that year, also won an Ulster and an All-Ireland medal in 2012. He was part of the panel until 2014.

Hanlon has been based in the British capital since January, working for HP Tunnelling, run by Hugh Boyle from Loughanure, and living with another Dungloe native, JP O’Donnell, who is also involved as a selector at Ruislip.

Seamus and Maurice Carr from Kilcar are also there, helping the club in multiple roles.

“I came over for work and had the chance to go to Moin Dearg, who have a lot of Ballybofey and Kilcar lads, but came to Tír Chonaill Gaels instead,” Hanlon told Donegal Sport Hub.

“The standard here is as good as it is at home; there’s a lot of county players playing. I live in Harrow along with JP, who has been over here involved in Gaels for 12 or 13 years now.

“Work takes me all over the city but life is good.”

Tír Chonaill Gaels have Cathal Magee, Gary Magee and Eamon McConville in their ranks – three men who won the 2005 All-Ireland Minor Football Championship with Down alongside the likes of Marty Clarke and Paul McComiskey.

Patsy Hanlon, Adrian’s father, is the Dungloe GAA chairman and he and Adrian’s brother Damien will be in attendance on Sunday.

“I’ve been home a few times and trained with Dungloe,” Adrian Hanlon added. “There’s a lot of good young players there and they’ve done well this year.”

Adrian Hanlon

Dungloe’s Adrian Hanlon in the colours of Tír Chonaill Gaels in London

The London SFC was at a standstill for over a month because of an appeal from Parnell’s, who have Sean O’Donnell from Termon and Na Rossa’s Dom Gallagher in their ranks.

Parnell’s launched an appeal against the result of their clash with Kingdom of Kerry Gaels in the group stages on September 13, which they lost on the referee’s card 0-14 to 0-10.

That was enough to seal Kingdom of Kerry Gaels’ passage but Parnell’s were insistent the final score was in fact 0-13 to 0-10, which meant Parnell’s would’ve progressed on the wafer-thin scoring difference.

Parnell’s contested the result with the London CCC and the British CCC before their DRA hearing in Belfast also proved unsuccessful.

In the meantime, Tír Chonaill Gaels, who also have Brian McBrearty from Letterkenny – seven times a London SFC winner – on their coaching team and as substitute goalkeeper, kept themselves occupied by playing challenge games against the likes of John Mitchels.

The Liverpool side have Colm Gallagher from Mountcharles and Glencolumbkille’s Conal Cunningham on their management team.

When the time came though, two weeks ago in the London SFC semi-final Tír Chonaill Gaels overcame Kingdom of Kerry Gaels 1-9 to 0-9 with Brian Duddy scoring the only goal. It’s Tír Chonaill Gaels’s 16th senior final -with 12 wins, the last of which game in 2014 – and Kingdom of Kerry Gaels’ first.

“There was a hold up and we’ve weren’t involved in it but all we could do was keep playing,” Hanlon added. “But we’re at the final now against a good St Kieran’s side. They have already beaten us this year in the cup final. They’re defensive but they’re good.

“Hopefully the three of us Donegal lads will be playing inside. If it is we should be alright!”

MA in Journalism graduate from NUI Galway and BBS Marketing and NC in Online Marketing from LyIT, who has worked covering sport in Donegal since 2004. Part of Donegal Democrat who won McNamee awards in 2013 and 2015 for 'best provincial publication'. Reseacher for 'Jimmy's Winnin' Matches' documentary and Rory Kavanagh's autobiography 'Winning'

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