Pictures: Malcolm McNally
London Senior Hurling Championship Final 2015
ROBERT EMMETTS 3-10
ST GABRIELS 1-10
THREE goals in a ferocious first-half display ultimately secured Robert Emmetts the 2015 Ardent Tide Senior Hurling Championship title at the Irish TV Grounds in Ruislip on Sunday.
Bidding for a record 17th Senior title, St Gabriels – wearing the maroon colour of Galway, where so many of their members past and present hail from – were expected to control the game, but they were unable to cope with the pace at which Emmetts opened the game.
Eoin Chawke opened the scoring with a pointed free and in doing so he set the tone of the match, while the mighty puck of Sean Ryan – who added their second point moments later – suggested Emmetts were a threat from the dead ball anywhere on the field.
A couple of wides didn’t derail Emmetts as they struck the first goal of the game just seven minutes in, with captain Martin Fitzpatrick reacting quickest to lash the sliotar home following great, aggressive play from Tadhg Healy in midfield.
An Eoin Kelly free kept Gabriels within a goal’s reach, but the 2013 champions were always playing catch-up and the deficit soon became worryingly big as a neat Cathal Keogh point was followed up with another Emmetts goal.
This time, Chawke’s low drill into the penalty area was met with a clash of bodies and a deflection off Gabriels captain Martin Ryan saw another green flag raised in favour of Emmetts, taking the score to 2-03 to 0-03.
At six points down, Gabriels really needed to get their act together, and they did so momentarily as back-to-back points from Michael Ivors and David Egan steadied their nerves somewhat.
Denis O’Regan then produced the best point of the first-half, sailing a beautiful strike over the bar on the turn for Emmetts, but just when everything seemed to be going their way, their captain went down in a heap and a change was signalled to the bench.
It was difficult viewing seeing Fitzgerald carried off the field by his clubmates, but Emmetts sent on Mick Dwyer in his place and, credit to them, they didn’t appear to dwell on the loss of a key player.
Paul Horkan and veteran Fergus McMahon in the centre of defence were doing a rock solid job in thwarting Gabriels’ usually potent attack, and even when they did let their guard down, Ryan in the Emmetts goal was on top form himself.
On the stroke of half-time, Emmetts were handed a gift of a goal to send them in with a sizeable lead at the break – James Barrett in the Gabriels goal taking his eye off the ball and subsequently fumbling a free from Chawke into his own net.
With Emmetts 3-04 to 0-04 up at half-time, Gabriels had a real mountain to climb, yet there was a slight sense that they weren’t out of it just yet, although they would need a colossus second-half performance if they were to turn it around.
Alas, it never came, and as Daryll Roberts won a free which Chawke popped over at the beginning of the re-start, it became clear Emmetts weren’t even close to collapsing.
Barrett showed great mental strength to recover from his first-half howler to make a fantastic double-save to just about keep Gabriels in the game early in the second-half, while former Clare player Bernard Gaffney – a first-half substitute – scored arguably his side’s best point of the match from a tight angle.
Kelly added to their tally with another free soon after, with the score being 3-05 to 0-06 at this point, but every time Gabriels ate into the points deficit, Chawke would counter with a free of pin-point accuracy.
Then came a glimmer of hope for Gabriels. It was the goal they’d been waiting for as Ivors was finally allowed enough space to drill a powerful effort at goal, and he took his opportunity emphatically.
Keeping up with the trend, Emmetts responded with a free via Man of the Match Chawke, before Kelly cancelled that out with a point from open play.
With 15 minutes to go, the score was 3-09 to 1-07 in Emmetts’ favour – Gabriels still had a lot of catching up to do and, indeed, they’d given themselves too big a hill to climb.
Another Kelly free kept them ticking over but, in reality, they were chasing a lost cause, particularly when Chawkes added his sixth point of the second-half from another dead ball.
Emmetts remained as classy as they were in the opening minutes as they closed out the game to secure a comprehensive 3-10 to 1-10 victory to lift their first senior title in four years.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Man of the match: Eoin Chawke was instrumental for Robert Emmetts throughout, but particularly in the second-half when he scored all six of his side’s points.
Score of the match: Although he was on the losing side in the end, Michael Ivors’ second-half goal for St Gabriels was a beauty and it momentarily kept the game alive as a contest.
St Gabriels: Four
Robert Emmetts: Ten
St Gabriels: James Barret; Tom Lally, Neil Coady, Enda Collins; Neil Rogers, Enda Cooney, Sean Gilchrist; Martin Ryan (captain), David Coffey; David Egan, Kevin Coen, Shane Egan; Michael Ivors, Eoin Kelly, Luke Hands.
Subs: Bernard Gaffney for Coffey, Frankie Tierney for S Egan, Kevin Walshe for Gilchrist, Adrian Guinan for Lally.
Robert Emmetts: Sean Ryan; Mark Conroy, Paul Horkan, Stephen Griffey; Paddy Breen, Fergus McMahon, Sean Finn; Tadhg Healy, Michael O’Laochdha; Eoin Chawke, Martin Fitzpatrick (captain), Cathal Keogh; Denis O’Regan, Rory Costello, Daryll Roberts
Subs: Mick Dwyer for Fitzpatrick, Danny Buckley for Costello, Conor Campion for O'Regan, Neil Magee for Griffey.
Referee: Brian Barrett