Allianz Hurling League Division 2A
LONDON hurlers were not given a chance for this National Hurling League Division 2A contest in Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday.
One national newspaper on the previous day had quoted Carlow at 1/25 with London mentioned at 8/1. In other words, the visitors were massively written off.
A stranger coming into the ground at half-time who didn’t know the colours of the teams but was aware of the odds would surely have presumed that the bookies had it right.
At 2-12 to 0-3 at the break surely the favourites were in the driving seat? Not a bit of it. In what was probably one of London’s best ever performance of modern times, they tore up the form book and dished out the mother and father of a hiding to Carlow.
The score-line at half-time and the final score says it all. The eventual winners dominated from beginning to end. The wind and rain were factors in the first-half as Kevin O’Loughlin scored at will.
He popped over two ‘65s and then a brace of side-line cuts. Just before the break, he doubled on a loose ball for a great opportunist goal. By that stage Martin Duggan had put London well and truly on the path to victory when he shot home from close range when the Carlow defence failed to clear.
There was only one side in it as London got three to four players to every point of the action while Carlow all but stood and admired them.
The home side needed to hit the ground running in the second period. Instead it was London who scored the first two points when O’Loughlin landed another ’65, while Mark O’Dwyer pointed from play. David English converted a ‘65 for Carlow but it was crumbs from the master’s table.
Any remote chance of a comeback died on 45 minutes when O’Loughlin converted a penalty after O’Dwyer had been fouled. After that he secured his hat-trick when kicking the sliotar through a ruck of players which, from a Carlow point of view, was soft.
John Michael Nolan stiffened Carlow’s resolve when he came on but it was token resistance against the Londoners who behaved like driven men. For Daryl Roberts, it was an amazing comeback to his native county.
He has soldiered with his native Ballinkillen and Carlow on this very ground. Life hasn’t always been good for him here but on Sunday that was put to one side as he put one over on former colleagues. His point in each half illustrated his eye for the posts too.
At one stage he had his hurl pulled from his grasp and thrown into the stand. That was a strange moment considering the game had been played with little rancour.
Diarmuid Byrne picked up his second yellow for that particular piece of foolishness and duly walked.
A further positive for London was the performance of their replacements. Bill Walsh was in particularly good form and his goal was a sign that he must feel he deserves to start the next day.
After that it was all about enjoying the moment. With the disappointment of a home defeat the previous week, this was the perfect reply from the Exiles.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Man of the match: Kevin O’Loughlin (London)
London: Pádraig Buckley; Thomas Lawrence, Luke Gaule, Christopher McAlinden; Fergal Collins, Brian Regan, Oisin Gately; Noel McDonnell (0-1), Damien Brown; Mark O’Dwyer (0-2), Kevin Reid (0-1), Daryl Roberts (0-2); Shane O’Donnell, Martin Duggan (1-1), Kevin O’Loughlin (3-9, 1-0 pen, 3 65s, 2fs). Subs: Bill Walsh (1-0) for O’Donnell (43 mins), Peter Phelan for Reid (48 mins), Barry Kiely for McDonnell (54 mins), Michael O’Dwyer for O’Loughlin (62 mins), Stephen Bardon for Duggan (63 mins).
Carlow: Jack Barron; Ronan Nolan, Shane Kavanagh, Michael Malone; Ger Coady, Diarmuid Byrne, James O’Hara; David English (0-2, 65, pen), Kevin McDonald; Craig Wall (0-4), Seamus Murphy (0-1), James Doyle; Denis Murphy, Conor Lawlor (0-1), Sean Whelan (1-0). Subs: John Michael Nolan (0-3) for Coady (26 mins), Marty Kavanagh for Doyle (44 mins).
Referee: John O’Brien (Tipperary).