Friday 24 May 2019

Visiting London GAA team scramble to replace hurls after Aer Lingus loses baggage

Clash: London’s Killian Burke in action against Adam Gannon, left, and Gavin McGowan of Meath on Sunday in Navan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Clash: London’s Killian Burke in action against Adam Gannon, left, and Gavin McGowan of Meath on Sunday in Navan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

The London senior hurlers were thrown into disarray before their Christy Ring Cup tie with Meath when the bag carrying all of their hurls didn't arrive on their Aer Lingus flight from Heathrow.

All of the equipment belonging to the 26-man squad is collected before each game abroad and put in a protective bag to ensure nothing is damaged in transit. The bag was checked in on their Saturday afternoon flight, but it never arrived.

London officials were made aware of the error on landing in Dublin Airport and given assurances that their players would be reunited with their hurls before the 1pm throw-in against Meath in Navan on Sunday.

The bag was expected to arrive to the team hotel on Sunday morning before they departed for the game but the players were forced to improvise when they realised that that was not the case.

Anyone who has ever played hurling knows the importance of familiarity - much like a snooker player's cue or a tennis player's racquet - and the London squad rushed to make sure they had suitable replacements. Parents, friends and clubmates who were travelling to the game in Páirc Tailteann were contacted and asked to bring hurls with them.

Contrary to some reports, the Meath squad did not lend them any hurls.

Salt was quickly rubbed into their wounds when Shane Kelly's side conceded two early goals before suffering a comprehensive 16-point defeat on a scoreline of 2-23 to 0-13.

Luck

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It has happened to many people during their travels but it was particularly bad luck for the Exiles as this was their sixth time to travel to Dublin this year for a game without any hurls going astray before.

It's difficult enough for the London hurlers to thrive, given all the barriers involved with living outside of Ireland and training in the English capital but this was a stroke of misfortune before their championship opener.

Aer Lingus apologised for the "inconvenience caused" to the London hurlers and recognised the impact which the delay had on them.

An Aer Lingus spokesperson said: "While the team members were reunited with the baggage the following day, we recognise the impact of the delay and sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused."

London should have no such travel problems on home soil this weekend as they look to get their Christy Ring Cup campaign back on track when welcoming Roscommon to Ruislip for their second-round clash this Saturday.

Irish Independent

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