Irish draw but had chances to win it

London Senior Hurling Championship Round 1
Fulham Irish 2-8 vs Kilburn Gaels 0-14

The first round of the Senior Hurling Championships took place on August 6 and like the start of this sentence, there were a lot of firsts; it was the first round of the championship, as advised, first time this season Irish has played at Greenford, first time Kilburn Gaels were the opposition this season and first time captain Shane O’Donnell, has led the team out for a championship game.

From the whistle Fulham showed their intent to put pressure on the Kilburn backs but an interception by Gaels saw the ball driven into Irish’s half back line only for Fergus O’Regan to catch.

However an uncharacteristic wayward pass led to Kilburn’s first score. Kilburn continued to put pressure on the half backs as their key player, Lambert, scored another point from a breaking ball as Irish struggled to find their feet, but with captain Shane O’Donnell taking the first point for Irish, the team settled in and started to show they were not here just to make up the numbers.

Gaels continued to score as they opened up a three point lead which could have been more if some of the frees they were awarded had been converted into scores.

On 17 minutes, Irish broke the back line of Kilburn with Kev Mooney having a chance on goal, but unfortunately Kilburn managed to turn the ball over.

This did not put Irish off though, as Mick Harte created space to catch a cross field pass from O Donnell, to then pass into the house to an awaiting Eoin ‘Skinny’ McCarthy, who caught the pass and turned to put the sliotar into the back of Kilburn’s net.

Irish stepped up a gear again as Gaels found it difficult to deal with Fulham’s halfbacks and midfield.
O’Regan again intercepted a pass to an awaiting Gaels player to find Skinny who scored another point to add to his tally of a goal.

Skinny was having his best game in the Fulham Irish. With half time looming and momentum on the side of Irish, Gaels made one more break for goal and shot, only for James McSweeny to dive in front of the thundering shot as it ricocheted off his helmet which done its job in protecting him.

A stop in play was needed as McSweeny was attended to. A further minute was played and the half time whistle was sounded. Kilburn Gaels 0-7 to Fulham Irish 1-3.

The work rate and intensity picked up for both teams in the second half as the sun belted down on the players, but a lack of discipline from Irish, gave Gaels the edge as they converted the free to lead by 2.

The game started to get a bit scrappy as play was being interrupted for frees on both sides, as they did not want to give their opposition an inch to play with. With a breaking ball just outside the halfway line, Eamonn O’Sullivan picked the sliotar up and sent it between the sticks to give a much needed push to Fulham.

However, on the 48 minute, Captain O’Donnell sustained an injury and was forced off the field of play. This disruption to Fulham’s game took its toll as the threat of Gael’s Lambert continued, as he picked off two easy points of play as Fulham took their time to reshape with the loss of O Donnell.

Both teams traded a score each when again Kilburn went ahead by a point only for the ball to be deemed wide much to the frustration of Kilburn Gaels.

A break in play resulted because of this disputed wide, as the referee consulted his umpires and stood by the decision of a wide.

With 55 minutes gone Irish sent a long cross field ball into the comer forward are for Mike Broder to pick the ball up and score a goal. Irish were right back in it.

Only minutes left and Irish scored a further point leading by 1, victory was in sight but a soft free inside the Irish half gave Kilburn the opportunity to score.

The ball, despite dropping short, went over the bar, but was battered back out by Irish. With Irish playing on, Gaels were left to await the referee to confirm it was indeed a point. Full time was up and confirmation from the ref was the score was 2-8 to 0-14 on his book.

A gutsy, gritted and spirited display by Fulham, who will be disappointed not getting a win but can hold their heads up high.

Manager Mick Ruby said of his team’s performance: “I’m happy enough with the performance but there were chances to win the game there for us.

“Then again we could have lost so we’ll take what we get. No one has given us a chance this year so I’d like to think that we are proving a few people wrong. Captain Shane O’Donnell added: “We took the game to Kilburn offering an intelligent yet high intensity performance. We saw some great performances from our men but especially from our championship debutants of Eamonn, Fergus, Steve, Diarmuid and Kevin. This result should give us the confidence to challenge the traditional London senior teams over the next month or so.”

A special mention must go to Richie Hannon who donned on the jersey for the last time. Coming on as sub for the final 10 minutes. Richie is moving to the Midlands and has been a key player to the team on and off the field especially this year where he supported the training programme for this season. All the squad wish him and his girlfriend the best for the future.

Team: David Gray, James McSwiney, Don O’Connell, Frank Ryan, Diarmuid Hayes, Fergus O’Regan, Eamonn O’Sullivan, Steve Martin, Shane O’Donnell, Eoin McCarthy, Jim Nelligan, Mick Harte, Mick Broder, Kevin Mooney, Luke Slyman, Mark O’Grady, John Condon, John McHugh. Andy McCahey, Richie Hannon and Mick Ruby.