London footballers will take a scalp soon
Sport

London footballers will take a scalp soon

IN the fast paced environment of inter-county action the Spring is a time of many contradictions. Everybody starts their journey with some hope in the heart-it can both increase or dwindle rapidly. Such is life on that stage, but when the London footballers departed Netwatch Cullen Park following a defeat to Carlow on February 8 they did so at least with the knowledge that a performance had been delivered.

Undoubtedly the defeat cut Paul Coggins, but there was no denying his assertion that his London team had 'emptied themselves'. Essentially that is what sport is all about: doing your level best to see how far you can go.

Two Allianz Football League defeats so early in the year against counties aided by the provincial pre-season competitions won't have anyone unduly bothered in London. Still the thrilling 2013 adventure which culminated in a last 12 All Ireland Championship finish saw London briefly shed the plucky losers tag.

Moral victories are worthless, but there is honour in how London have performed in their matches against Offaly and Carlow. There is a method to London's play as Offaly and Carlow, especially, found out.

The shape of the London unit has been good and the willingness to work, to force turnovers, and to break at speed has been evident. Offaly's failures in the past decade remain a mystery because the Faithful possess talent, Pat Flanagan's sensible sideline approach might nudge them back to where they should be operating.

London restricted Offaly to two first-half points and diligent defensive work has been a feature of the 140 plus minutes in which the Exiles have competed in 2015. Coggins will demand similar attitude and application in the coming weeks and months; a decent scalp might be taken soon.

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Ireland need to stay cool and clinical

For some reason Irish teams, regardless of the sporting code, seem to have a flair for the dramatic. So when the key, crunch, decisive, vital, or defining game arrives a nation holds its breath. In these insanely robust times for rugby where the collisions are fierce and brutal Ireland have shown they belong in esteemed company.

Nine test triumphs on the spin brings that kind of assurance, but maintaining momentum can be an onerous task in the harsh environs of the Six Nations. England's defiance defeating Wales signalled their intent so how the forward battle goes against Ireland will be critical.

Jamie Heaslip's injury enforced absence is a serious blow for Ireland, but there is dynamism and durability to the Irish pack. Behind the scrum Johnny Sexton was cool and clinical despite all of the mayhem against France. That type of composure will be necessary again.