Irish back to hurling’s top flight after three-year absence

Fulham Irish 0-13 vs 0-09 Fr Murphy’s

London Intermediate Hurling Championship – Semi-final
Sunday, November 1 2015

At 10.30am on Sunday, November 1, dense fog at London GAA HQ looked set to hamper the semi-final of the London Intermediate Championship which would see Fulham Irish clash against Fr Murphy’s.
The start of the game was put back by 30 minutes, with the officials hoping the fog would lift in time for the game to commence, and it did.
This game was important for two reasons, the first and most obvious reason was a place in this year’s championship final, and the second and more important, was that the winner of this game would be promoted to the senior ranks for next season.
This added more tension to what was going to be a tough game for both sides.
Fr Murphy’s were on the back of playing two highly competitive games against Fullen Gaels but just lost out on the replay, while Irish’s preparation was intense training and a competitive challenge game versus the newly crowned senior champions, Robert Emmett’s.
From the off, both teams were intent on giving their all to this game with the stakes so high and within 30 seconds, referee Eddie Naughton blew his whistle for a free to Irish.
Shane O’Donnell stepped up to put the sliotar over the bar to get Fulham’s scoreboard rolling.
Murphy’s responded with a point from play from the puck out to draw the sides level for the first of many times throughout the game.
Fulham continued to pressure the Murphy’s defence and broke away on the four minutes with a chance at goal but the sliotar was put wide.
Mick Harte and Darragh Ryan dominated their areas of play throughout the first half and both had their part to play in creating a further two goal opportunities, but Irish failed to capitalise on them. Both teams continued to exchange points with Shane O’Donnell converting a further three points from frees to keep Fulham score line ticking over and a wonderful point from midfielder, Darragh McCarthy kept Irish’s noses in front as Fr Murphy’s continued to battle away and contain the deficit to one point.
Goalie Donal Casey was called upon to convert a 65 with six minutes of the first half left from which he drove the sliotar straight between the sticks, but a free just before half time gave Fr Murphy’s a point and the sides went in at half time, 0-07 to 0-06 to Irish.
Manager Mick Ruby gave a spirited team talk at half time and as the whistle went for the start of the second half, Irish were hungrier to get a positive result. Mike Harte picked up a lovely ball from the start of play and sprinted free of his marker and shot the sliotar to the right top corner of the goal for Fr Murphy’s keeper to make a great save to deny the goal and send the sliotar out past the end line for Irish first 65 of the second half.
Casey was called on again to strike the sliotar of which he fired the ball between the sticks.
Five minutes gone in the second half and once again Mick Harte broke free and had another goal opportunity, but the Murphy’s back line was quick to react to stop any threat of goal.
Harte was causing Murphy’s backs problems with clearly his best game of the season in a Fulham shirt.
Murphy’s, determined to keep in pace with Fulham, upped their game and the balance of play started to shift towards them until Decy Hayes, despite a broken finger, came on to give Irish more of an attacking threat in the forwards and within two minutes he had created space for Harte to step up and take a point.
The midfield team of Ryan and McCarthy from Fulham was dominant, as Fr Murphy’s dropped a man back to try to change the force of play in midfield. Fulham continued to push ahead and taking their scoring opportunities and with six minutes left were three up.
A free outside the Fulham 21 metre line, gave Murphy’s the change to score a much needed goal but the shot went wide. The last point of the game came from Foley, who was a free man as Irish counter attacked a breakdown in Murphy’s play. The white flag raised and with injury time now in play, Irish had to deal with Fr Murphy’s making one last attack.
Four minutes of added time gone and the referee whistle came to the relief and delight of Irish. While Murphy’s were never ahead, they certainly gave Fulham a tough battle and went down still fighting their cause to the final whistle.
A win for Fulham, a place in the county final and more importantly, after a three year wait, a return back in top flight hurling in London for next season.

Fulham Irish: Donal Casey, Colm Kennedy, Colin Smyth, James McSwiney, Frank Ryan, Pat O’Mahony, Tom Kennedy, Darragh Ryan, Darragh McCarthy, Colm Foley, Mick Harte, Mike Broder, Mark Bevans, Shane Moynihan, Shane O’Donnell, David Gray, Brian Hearne, David Madden, Declan Hayes, Derry Fitzgerald, Don O’Connell, Eoin McCarthy, John McHugh, Matt Silke and Richie Hannon

Referee: Eddie Naughton