Five points from the boot of Oisin McConville steered Crossmaglen Rangers to a hard-fought victory at Ruislip yesterday.
The Ulster and Armagh champions struggled for long spells against their gutsy hosts, who produced a valiant defensive performance. But McConville dragged Cross over the line before substitute Francis Hanratty sealed victory in injury-time with a fine goal.
Crossmaglen looked in trouble heading into the break. Playing with the advantage of the strong gale in the first half, the visitors registered just five points.
However, their defence was typically miserly in the second half and although Neasden remained within a score as the game drew to a close, Cross hit them on the counter attack through debutant Ronan Finnegan, who threaded a delightful through ball for Hanratty to find the net.
"That was a battle," said Tony McEntee, Crossmaglen's joint manager. "Conditions led to it. The field was next to unplayable and then you had a strong wind.
"We weren't playing well and the scoreline may flatter us a little bit. Everything is against us here. The field is very poor and the officials don't exactly favour us, so to come away with a six-point win is very pleasing."
Scorers -- Crossmaglen: O McConville 0-5 (3f), F Hanratty 1-0, A Kernan 0-2, M Aherne 0-1. Neasden Gaels: D Carty 0-3 (3f), P Friel (f), B Comer 0-1 each.
Crossmaglen Rangers -- P Hearty; B McKeown, P Kernan, J Morgan; A Kernan, D O'Callaghan, P McKeown; J Hanratty, D McKenna; J Clarke, J McEntee, M Aherne; T Kernan, M McNamee, O McConville. Subs: S Finnegan for O'Callaghan (h-t), S Kernan for Ahern (38), F Bellew for T Kernan (38), F Hanratty for McNamee (40), R Finnegan for B McKeown (57).
Neasden Gaels -- J McNamara; C O'Flynn, K Geraghty, B McDonagh; P McCone, T Gaughan, B Comer; C McGoldrick, A Flanagan; T Dougan, P Geraghty, J Scanlon; D Carty, P Friel, M Toner. Subs: J Raftery for Comer (54), S Lynch for Friel (55), W Comer for Dougan (55).
Ref -- M Duffy (Sligo).