Ahead of next months Connacht Quarter-final against Sligo I’ll be reviewing London’s league campaign ahead of the big game in May.
London suffered a 2-14 to 2-09 five-point loss at the hands of Carlow at the start of the league campaign. London’s Liam Gvaaghna and Killian butler were leading the line for the home side. But Carlow matched London and Jordan Morrisey helped the visitors over the line.
A week later London bounced back from the opening day loss and comfortably beat Wicklow by a sizeable 9 points to the tune of 1-16 to 0-10. Ryan Elliot got the Londoners on the score sheet before the Londoners pushed on despite Wicklow drawing Level the exile took the lead again and extended it thanks to Fergal McMahon and Mark Gottsche points. Things got even better for London when Liam Gavaghan when he rounded Roberts and slotted the ball home in the Wicklow net. London put in solid second-period performance as the cockneys secured their win of the campaign.
Next up was Limerick and the crowd at McGovern Park were treated to last gasps heroics thanks to Anthony McDermott as London and Limerick played out a closely fought out 2-8 to 2-8 draw. London breathed a sigh of relief to grab something from the game and in reality, they should have perhaps won the game thanks to points from Adrian Moyles kept edging the hosts ahead and London had the chance to go 4 points up and kill the game. But disaster struck for London when Limerick were allowed to attack the London backline and after failing to deal with the threat Josh Ryan grabbed his second goal of the game when the ball fell to him and he buried it in the net before Seamus O’Carroll put Limerick three points ahead with seconds on the clock. However, McDermott spared London blushes as they remained unbeaten for a second game.
Antrim produced a second-half comeback as London narrowly lost to Antrim 0-13 to 0-17. London started the brightest and looked full of confidence after their recent run of results. Ryan Elliot and Adrian Moyles put London into an early lead. Moyles was aided by Fearghal McMahon who helped London take a solitary point lead over the visitors at the break. In the second-half Antrim looked like a different side and they grabbed the first two points of the half, Paddy McAleer grabbed a fine score as Antrim took the lead for the first time in the match. Antrim aided by the wind kicked on from their fast start and looked to take control of the game despite points from London’s Moyles and Mark Gottsche they remained in the lead. Sloppy mistakes going forward from London virtually handed the game to Antrim on a plate as Antrim saw the rest of the game out comfortably to cap a frustrating day for London.
London suffered another frustrating day against Laois as the Exiles lost 2-09 to 0-17 at McGovern Park. Liam Gavaghan and Killian Butler netted for London. Laois got going in the second- half and managed to turn round the deficit to take the lead. Despite London forwards keeping the home side in contention Evan O’Carroll free put Laois two points to the good but they had to endure some anxious moments at the death as London pushed for a late winner.
London went into their last game against Waterford as they looked to secure their best ever league performance. But were ultimately left disappointed as Waterford turned round a six-point difference to win 1-16 to 1-14. London made the brighter start out of the two sides but had to deal with losing Anthony McDermott early to a black card. McDermott was replaced by Liam Staunton and the early blip didn’t affect London too much as the Exiles went on to hit a number unanswered 9 points which included scores from Patrick Begley, Adrian Moyles and Fearghal McMahon before Killian Butler finished off a slick attacking move as he rattled the net to grab the first goal of the game.
The purple patch London had been experiencing was proving too much for Waterford to handle and Butler was unlucky not to see his second effort on goal hit the next as the ball missed the goal and by a whisker and went over the bar.
The second-half was a disaster for London as the visitors half-time team talk seemed to work as they came out looking like a side on a mission as they grabbed the first two scores of the half and then kicked on as Kieran Power made the game a three point affair before disaster struck for London when Jason Curry who would go on to be the games top scorer with 1-9 capitalised on sloppy London defending to coolly finish past Gavin McEvoy in the London goal.
The goal left London shell-shocked and Waterford went on to hit a further four unanswered scores thanks to Conor Murray and Curry who got in on the scoring action.
Liam Gavaghan was the source of the London resilience as he hit two scores in a row but Waterford kept the scoreboard ticking over and, despite a late London point to reduce arrears to two Waterford held on to claim the win as London were left sickened as they were left wondering who they had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
London’s game against Leitrim was marked void by The GAA after the original game was postponed when The Beast from the east visited these isles.
Going into the Championship there are a lot of positives for London to work on from the league campaign. London born players such as Adrian Moyles, Liam Gavaghan and Killian Butler highlights Ciaran Deely’s faith in London born players is paying off.
London were unlucky not to salvage a couple of games after making costly mistakes in the game which caused London to lose these games. For example, there were a number of times careless or sloppy defending ended in London conceding. There was also a number of times shooting for goals to get points on the board is another area London can easily work on especially when they are under pressure with little on the clock left.
Having seen London train first hand I’ve seen how Deely gets the players working on mistakes and areas to improve in fact since Deely took charge of London the progress on the pitch since 2013 has been evident. This London side are a side who learn from their mistakes and look sharper and improved every time they walk out onto the pitch and as a result, they are playing football that is enjoyable viewing and whats more this is a side that will continue to get better and better under the watchful eye of Deely.
London last faced Sligo at this stage of The Championship in 2013 and ultimately go to the Connacht final. Ciaran Deely’s men are a step up from London’s Championship side from 2013 so don’t be surprised if London dispose of Sligo once again this year.
Whatever the outcome if London reach the Connacht Semi-Finals or have to down the qualifiers route. One thing is for sure London football is on the rise and long may it continue.