Wednesday 28 January 2015

London hang on for historic final spot

London 2-11 Leitrim 1-13

John Fallon

Published 01/07/2013 | 05:00

30 June 2013; Lorcan Mulvey, London, in action against Kevin Conlon, Leitrim. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship, Semi-Final Replay, Leitrim v London, Hyde Park, Roscommon. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Lorcan Mulvey, London, in action against Kevin Conlon

The people who thought up 'The Gathering' could hardly have envisaged the GAA community in London taking it so seriously, but they will make their third trip back to the homeland this summer when they take on Mayo in the Connacht final.

The people who thought up 'The Gathering' could hardly have envisaged the GAA community in London taking it so seriously, but they will make their third trip back to the homeland this summer when they take on Mayo in the Connacht final.

It will be a historic occasion in McHale Park for the July 21 showdown when London run out in a Connacht decider for the first time, but they are there on merit.

They followed up their win over Sligo by taking out Leitrim at Dr Hyde Park yesterday in a game that was one of the most bizarre in the competition's history. London had the wind in the first half and blitzed a depleted Leitrim side who had lost midfielder Darren Sweeney and captain Emlyn Mulligan by the 14th minute.

By half-time London were 2-10 to 0-2 to the good, and yet by the finish they were hanging on and only survived when Leitrim's Kevin Conlon and James Glancy missed good chances to snatch a late equaliser.

"The lads battled well but the gap was huge," said Leitrim joint manager George Dugdale.

"Fair play to the boys, they gave it everything. We had a chance to equalise in the end but we didn't take it. That's life I suppose and good luck to London. We will just have to regroup for the qualifiers and see where we go."

London manager and Roscommon native Paul Coggins was trying to make sense of it all in the middle of the field half an hour after the finish.

"We were trying to keep as composed on the line as we could but they were putting extreme pressure on us," he said. "I suppose we just had enough in the tank in the end. We were very much of the opinion at half-time that if we didn't concede a goal we would do it.

"But obviously they got the goal and they played tremendously well in the second half."

Can they now do the impossible and beat Mayo? "You can do anything, but we will enjoy tonight first," he said. "Mayo are a fabulous team, but we will work hard for the next few weeks. We are a good team and we will go into the final and do our best and let's see what happens."

His side made great use of the wind and of Leitrim's early injury misfortunes. Former Cavan player Lorcan Mulvey kicked some great frees and they were 0-7 to 0-1 in front after 19 minutes.

Then came the first of the goals when Greg Crowley finished to the net after a great move and an astonishing first half was bookended when Ciaran McCallion crashed another to the roof of the net for a 2-10 to 0-2 half-time lead.

Leitrim, in fairness, made a superb comeback, Kevin Conlon landing four placed balls in the opening five minutes of the second half.

Mulvey replied with his fifth point after 43 minutes – it turned out to be London's final score of the game. The Leitrim supporters, who made up the bulk of the 5,217 crowd, suddenly found their voice as the London challenge wilted.

Robbie Lowe chipped in with a few points but it was when James Glancy fisted home a Conlon delivery that they really began to believe they could do a Lazarus job.

The goal made it 2-11 to 1-9 with eight minutes remaining. Conlon got three more points and Paul Brennan landed one from distance as London tried frantically to hold on, but they survived and will be back again for the next chapter of this wondrous journey.

Scorers – London: L Mulvey 0-5fs, C McCallion 1-1, G Crowley 1-0, E O'Neill, T Gaughan 0-2 each, C Magee 0-1. Leitrim: K Conlon 0-8 (7fs, 1 '45'), R Lowe 0-3, J Glancy 1-0, E Mulligan (f), P Brennan (f) 0-1 each.

London – D Traynor 7; P Butler 6, S Curran 8, D McGreevy 7; S Hannon 7, S Mulligan 6, T Gaughan 7; P Geraghty 7, C Doyle 6; D Dunleavy 7, G Crowley 7, C McCallion 7; C Magee 7, L Mulvey 8, E O'Neill 7. Subs: E McConville 6 for Hannon (35), S Kelly 6 for McCallion (44), C Daly for Geraghty (Blood 47-58), B Mitchell 6 for Dunleavy (54), Daly 6 for Doyle (60), B Collins 6 for Magee (63).

Leitrim – C McCrann 7; G Reynolds 7, C Egan 6, F McMorrow 6; D Beck 6, E Williams 7, B Prior 6; D Sweeney 5, B Brennan 6; P Brennan 6, K Conlon 7, P McGowan 6; J Glancy 6, E Mulligan 5, R Lowe 7. Subs: C Clarke 7 for Sweeney (10), B McDonald 6 for Mulligan (14), S McWeeney 6 for Egan (35), R Cox 6 for McDonald (52).

Ref – C Reilly (Meath)

Irish Independent

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