FROM his workplace at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, Jack Goulding has a view of Big Ben across the Thames.
The physiotherapist, from Ballyduff in North Kerry, is one of the key cogs in the Fulham Irish side tasked with improving the chances against Ballina Stephenites.
They have already achieved their main goal for 2023 by winning the London SFC title.
But Goulding and his teammates are determined to prove the clock hasn’t stopped on their season.
After landing at Knock Airport tomorrow morning, they head to Castlebar in search of a shock win, which the bookies rate as a 15-2 shot.
Goulding, who has lived in the English capital since 2019, said: “It’s a different experience preparing for games when you’re here.
“It’s not like you’re going from Kerry to Cork.
“You get on a plane at Heathrow to play a game, which is obviously unusual.
“It brings its own challenges, but it also brings the group even more together.”
Founded as a club in 2006, Fulham Irish were crowned London champions for the fourth time after defeating Tír Chonaill Gaels two weeks ago.
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Doubles star Goulding – who plays with the St Gabriel’s club – scored two points in the 0-11 to 0-8 win at Ruislip.
And that earned him his third county senior medal in both codes.
He could secure a fourth place finish before the end of the year, although the hurling decider between defending champions Gabriel’s and Brothers Pearse is held up by a dispute over player eligibility.
Goulding added: “In a city like London it’s very easy to grab a beer after work or go out for dinner every night of the week.
“But football and hurling keep you informed, keep you grounded and motivated to look after yourself. Without her you’d probably be a bit lost.”
At the age of 19, Goulding was handed his hurling debut for Kerry by Ciarán Carey.
He also won a Fitzgibbon Cup medal in 2018 as part of an incredibly talented UL panel that included Gearóid Hegarty, Kyle Hayes, Seán Finn, Barry Nash, Tom Morrissey, Tony Kelly, David Fitzgerald, Conor Cleary, Ian Galvin, John McGrath and belonged to Jason Forde.
Talented striker Goulding, who led St Gabriel’s to championship honors in his adopted hometown last year, has been named London captain for 2023 after proving to be a “real leader who always leads by example”, according to Exiles hurling boss Kevin McMullan “had established.
DESIGNED FOR LEADERSHIP
Goulding, now 26, continues to demonstrate his skills as a skipper.
His involvement with the Kerry minor footballers was crucial to the development of this aspect of his game.
The team was captained by current Kingdom gaffer Jack O’Connor and Goulding won an All-Ireland medal in 2015 alongside players such as Seán O’Shea, Gavin White, Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan and Geelong AFL ace Mark in this class O’Connor.
Goulding said: “I learned a lot working under Jack, but I was probably a bit immature and inexperienced at the time.
“But Jack really added a bit of professionalism to my game and helped me do the right things a bit more consistently.
“I like to have a bit of flair in my game, so he helped me channel that so I can use it at the right moment.”
“His winning mentality and just the effort he was willing to put in to win a game really impacted everyone this year.
“I have carried some of the characteristics from back then with me throughout my entire career.
“There were a lot of great characters on this team. We had some incredible leaders who I learned a lot from.
“And I think that has helped me take on a leadership role on many of the teams I currently play on.”
EXAMPLE OF CORKING
There is certainly no shortage of leadership for Fulham Irish if they can afford to keep a man like Niall Corkery in reserve.
Corkery, who won the All-Ireland Club SFC with Kilmacud Crokes in 2009, played for Dublin the following year when Pat Gilroy’s men suffered a painful one-point semi-final defeat at the hands of eventual champions Cork at the hands of Sam Maguire.
He emigrated to London in 2011 and actually played AGAINST Fulham Irish for the losing Parnells team in that season’s county final.
With his children now involved in Fulham Irish’s thriving youth team, which was formed earlier this year, Corkery, 38, moved on and became involved with the senior team.
The opportunity to bring a player with his experience off the bench was a huge advantage, emphasizes Goulding – who until recently was blissfully unaware that one of his newest team-mates had once worked with Hill 16 heroes Stephen Cluxton, Mick Fitzsimons and Bernard Brogan worked together.
Goulding laughed: “It’s funny how things can go here with the different players you end up working with.
“I had never heard of Niall before.
“I didn’t know anything about his background or anything. I just found out a few weeks ago.”
“But it made sense at the time because of the way he spoke in training or in group chats. He is very good.
“The man is so humble that he never talks about himself or his origins.
“If it were mentioned, he would end up turning the conversation back to you.
“If you look back at our last few games, the impact he had after coming on – in terms of losing possession and winning the first possession – was just unreal.
“He’s the type of guy who leads by example. The messages he gave us this week were great about having the right attitude. It was really helpful.”
Led by former Cavan and London midfielder Lorcan Mulvey, Fulham Irish travel to MacHale Park tomorrow hoping to put a damper on Ballina’s plans to progress to the Connacht semi-final against Galway star Corofin close.
And Goulding said: “We know Ballina are very strong.
“If a team is capable of winning the championship in Mayo then it goes without saying that they will be formidable opponents.”
“They are good at passing the ball, but they can also create variety and get a win, as we saw in the district final.
“But they have very good footballers who can also win a game for you, so we know we can expect a very difficult game.
“The championship in London prepared us well with the games against St Kiernan’s and Tír Chonaill Gaels.
“When you put these teams together you get roughly what Ballina will offer us this weekend. But we will be prepared for it.”