Wee chink of light as exiles are banished
The Championship 2018 - Louth 2-26 London 1-19
On what began as a tentative trip with unspeakable consequences, the travelling Louth footballers mixed business with pleasure, very much leaning on the side of pleasure, with an emphatic 10-point victory over London on Sunday.
The manner of victory was irrelevant as it was all about breaking an eight-game losing streak, but the open attacking play from Louth will please a very relieved Louth manager Pete McGrath as he saw his troops play with freedom for the first time under his egregious reign. William Woods will get all the deserved plaudits with 13 points to his name following an exhibition of place kicking, his only blot was a missed penalty but he still managed to score, driving it high and over the bar.
The Naomh Fionnbarra marksman got down to work straight-away, fouled in the opening possession he took the free himself and struck it so sweetly you knew he was going to have a good day at the office. Inspired by the sun kissed Ruislip setting Louth started brightly - a rare occurrence this season - none more so than Tommy Durnin who dominated the airways with some fine marks and scored the second point of the game.
Declan Byrne added another soon after before referee Padraig Hughes dubiously disallowed a Ryan Elliot goal after an exposed Emmet Carolan was forced to pull him down. The referee blew the whistle too hastily much to London’s frustration. Adrian Moyles tapped over the free. The Exiles did get their goal against the run of play after Moyles and Woods traded frees. Elliot drove at the Louth defence again going on a mazy run and he even rounded Neil Gallagher to level the game, 1-2 to 0-5.
Woods reacted to the setback with a free, something that has been lacking from Louth’s entire season, a positive response. Fearghal McMahon pounced on a Anthony Williams turnover but the positivity continued with points Ciaran Downey and Byrne. The formers influence on the game cannot be understated. The Newtown Blues youngster still finding his feet at this level in what is his debut season, put in his finest display in the red jersey. Once his marker, former Roche Emmets man Martin Carroll received a black card, it allowed him the freedom to put his stamp on proceedings even further.
The loss of Carroll also had a knock on effect to Louth’s kick outs as London then allowed Gallagher to go short. The shift led to Louth’s opening goal as Anthony Williams and corner back James Craven drove up the left flank and the lively Ronan Holcroft reminded everyone of what he can do with a decisive finish. Louth’s second goal this season. Moyles and Liam Gavaghan notched frees either side of a another McMahon score from play before Downey struck his second point, a beauty from the right on his right. London born Moyles, one of six that started, kept the hosts in the game with fine frees either side of a Holcroft point, selling a dummy on his right before slotting over on the left.
Louth’s good end to the half could have been different as Thomas Waters shot was smothered by Cooley net minder Gallagher a further nod to McGrath’s selection process just before Downey’s long range effort. Buzzing with a new found sense of confidence, Downey then spotted Conor Grimes isolated on the edge of the square and the Tullyallen forward pirouetted and palmed the ball in the same movement past the helpless exiles goalkeeper Gavin McElroy.
Pacy Gerard McSorley got in on the act, to score his first of his three points and complete the set of every Louth forward line to score on the day ahead of the half time whistle Elliot did make 2-12 to 1-9 but you felt the visitors had the required cushion. Moyles quickly added to his tally after the restart. Louth cap-tain Andy McDonnell marshalled well by Waters on the day, started a scoring run of five in a row along with Byrne and a three frees from Woods.
Moyles a constant thorn got his first form play an excellent effort from his accurate left foot, cancelled Woods free to push the lead out to ten 2-18 to 1-11. A Mark Gottsche free from distance and McSorley exchanged scores as David Carrabine received a black card. London who haven’t won a Qualifier game since 2011 then raised a gallop, notching five on the trot midway through the second half from Moyles with three, McMahon and substitute Killian Butler. Holcroft then received a black card himself midway through this onslaught.
Just as visiting Louth supporters began to get nervous, Grimes was pulled down and Woods fired the spot kick over the bar, then adding three more points, one from play. Grimes and McSorley got a pair of points each their industry deserved. London replacement Liam Irwin floated a consolation with the assist of wind for Ciaran Deely’s side.
With the feel good factor of a second round qualifier place already secured the day was enhanced further with Niall Conlon returning from injury and Mattock Rangers player Aaron O’Brien making his debut off the bench in the closing stages. Woods bookended the game, and stamped the overriding memory of the trip with a point from a free.