Monday 23 April 2018

Exiles end long drought in style

London 0-15 Fermanagh 0-9

THE London footballers ended a 34-year wait for a championship victory at Ruislip yesterday and they did so in some style.

Irish sporting history was made in the English capital for a second Saturday in succession. Seven days earlier, Conor Niland became the first Irishman to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon since 1984.

London hadn't tasted Championship success since defeating Leitrim in the Connacht SFC in 1977, so yesterday's triumph over a poor Fermanagh side sparked jubilant scenes at the west London venue, where just over 1,000 spectators turned out to witness a fine display from the Exiles and a thoroughly deserved victory.

Paul Coggins' players went into the game with an unfamiliar weight of expectation on their shoulders. Having taken Mayo to extra-time last month, many correctly felt that a win over a Fermanagh team in disarray was well within their capabilities.

It was perhaps an appropriate end to a season to forget for Fermanagh football.

London played with the aid of a strong breeze in the first half and they made that advantage count, taking an eight-point lead into the break. Pádraig McGoldrick opened the scoring with a point in the fifth minute, and further scores from Eoin O'Neill (2) and Kevin O'Leary gave London a 0-4 to 0-0 lead with 13 minutes played.

The hosts were utterly dominant during the opening half, as Fermanagh struggled to gain possession within shooting distance. Paul Geraghty and Mark Gottsche added to London's tally, before Tomás Corrigan finally opened Fermanagh's account in the 32nd minute to leave five points between the teams.

However, London finished the half well and points from O'Leary, Tony Gaughan and O'Neill gave them a 0-9 to 0-1 interval lead. That gap should have been much wider, in fact. London kicked seven wides in the first half and saw two further attempts come back off the post.

Fermanagh had a mountain to climb after the break, but they got off to an encouraging start, with impressive right half-forward John O'Flanaghan kicking the first of his five points within a minute of the resumption.

Eoin O'Neill responded immediately for London, before Brian Óg Maguire and O'Flanaghan pointed to leave Fermanagh trailing by six in the 41st minute. Ciaran McCallion then kicked his first point for London but two in a row from O'Flanaghan left the home side leading by 0-11 to 0-6 with 20 minutes remaining, as Fermanagh appeared to be gathering momentum.

Two further points from O'Flanaghan and another from Daniel Kille brought the deficit back to four points by the 61st minute, but that was as close as Fermanagh would get.

Three unanswered points from McCallion and substitutes Killian Phair and Cathal O'Sullivan put the result beyond doubt. By the time Kille kicked a 70th-minute free for Fermanagh, London already had their eyes on the draw for round 2 of the qualifiers.

Scorers -- London: O'Neill 0-4 (2f), McGoldrick, O'Leary, McCallion 0-2 each, Gaughan, Gottsche, Geraghty, O'Sullivan, Phair 0-1 each. Fermanagh: O'Flanaghan 0-5 (2f), Kille 0-2 (1f), Maguire, Corrigan 0-1 each.

London: E Byrne; B Comer, M Moloney, D McGreevy; S Doolan, T Gaughan, D O'Neill; D Hagan, M Gottsche; C McCallion, P Geraghty, S McVeigh; K O'Leary, P McGoldrick, E O'Neill. Subs: C O'Sullivan for Hagan (48), K Phair for McGoldrick (60), J Collins for McCallion (65), S Kelly for O'Neill (69).

Fermanagh: J McGrath; J Woods, B Owens, M Jones; M O'Brien, N McGovern, K Cosgrove; R Jones, R O'Callaghan; J O'Flanaghan, N Cassidy, B Maguire; S Quigley, D Kille, T Corrigan. Subs: H Brady for O'Callaghan (31), D McCusker for Cassidy (37), C O'Brien for Cosgrove (45), P Ward for Corrigan (47).

Referee: D Fahy (Longford).

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