Breen's summer story
Breen’s summer story
By Damian Dolan
Brian Breen has fond memories of Ruislip, and so he should. Leitrim’s new co-manager enjoyed success there as a player with both Leitrim and Tir Chonaill Gaels and on June 3 he’ll look to add success as an inter-county manager when Leitrim face London in the Connacht Championship.
Breen spent three happy summers in London in the mid-eighties, helping the Greenford club to win its’ first-ever Conway Cup, before returning home to take his place in Leitrim’s historic Connacht Championship winning side of 1994.
His finest hour at the Emerald Grounds, though, had come two years earlier when he scored 2-7 to help Leitrim beat the Exiles 3-17 to 2-10 in the Connacht SFC quarter-final. John Costello’s goal saw London surprisingly lead shortly after half-time, only for Leitrim to pull away with Breen to the fore.
“Gerry Boyle, the Tir Chonaill Gaels and London goalkeeper, never forgave me for that!,” said Breen, who also tasted victory with Leitrim at Ruislip in 1987.
“I was marking Eoin Bonner that day and he never lived it down – it got a mention at his wedding some years later up in Donegal!
“My memories of those games were that they were tough - the London games were so tough. I’m looking forward to June 3, and we’ll be expecting nothing different given London’s profile last year.
“It’s something we’ve taken seriously here and you don’t have to be a genius to know that London will identity the likes of Leitrim any year and say ‘this is our chance’.
“I’ve no doubt they’re probably preparing more diligently now than ever, because they know they have a chance of beating a team in the Connacht Championship proper, rather than beating Fermanagh in the qualifiers.
“It’s something that we’re very aware of and something that we’re prepared for. People here talk about us being drawn away to Mayo in Castlebar in some day in June – I don’t even know when that date is. The only date in my mind is June 3 in Ruislip.” June will also be a chance for Breen to catch up with some old friends. Every summer between 1985 and 1987 Breen left his studies in Dublin far behind to escape to London. He only had one destination – a small corner of west London.
His uncle Patsy McGovern is an ex-president of the club, while his wife Pam served as assistant treasurer. He played senior championship in 1985 and was part of the club’s Conway Cup winning side the following year.
But success on the field was nothing compared to the friendships he made off it, in the likes of Bonner, Tommy McFadden, James McFadden, Frank Glynn, Danny Tully, Eddie McGinty, Maurice Carr, Paddy Burke and current chairman Tom Mohan.