London Senior Hurling Championship semi-finals
KILBURN Gaels forward Stephen Lambert spurned a late chance to force a replay in the London Senior Hurling Championship semi-final as Robert Emmetts booked their place in the final against St Gabriels with a 2-11 to 0-16 win.
Watching the die-hard Kilburn supporters trying to console Lambert after the final whistle, it was hard not to feel sympathy for him. With 15 minutes to go, and Kilburn trailing by four points, Lambert entered the fray.
Within a minute of his introduction he scored a tremendous point from inside his own half and within five minutes he had three more on the scoreboard. All of a sudden the teams were level and it was game on. That was the fourth time the teams were deadlocked on the scoreboard.
A brilliantly taken goal by Daryll Roberts for Robert Emmetts had the crowd on their feet and referee Eddie Naughton had played three minutes of injury time when Mick Dwyer scored a fantastic point on the run to send Emmetts one point up.
A long puck out from Tomas Lowry then saw Martin Duggan fouled just outside the 45-metre line. Lambert would normally put such a free away – 99 times out of 100 – but on Saturday he missed the chance to draw the game.
Kilburn had been 2-12 to 1-10 winners when the clubs met in an early round of the Championship, but it is never easy to beat a good team twice in the same year.
The game started at 90 miles an hour. There was some crisp, first-time hurling on show and with both Kilburn’s Damien Browne and Eoin Chawke of Robert Emmetts proving deadly accurate from placed balls, the game slowed down to a steady pace.
Tagdh Healy was hurling up a storm in midfield for Emmetts and Sean Ryan’s huge puck outs were putting a lot of pressure the Kilburn defence, in which full-back Luke Gaule and corner-back Conor Hickey were rock solid.
Paul Horkan was keeping a close watch on Martin Duggan and if you stop Duggan you stop Kilburn. On Kilburn’s best days their ability to strike killer goals is unrivalled in London, but Emmetts’ tigerish defence was able to limit them to just a couple of half chances over the course of the game.
The pressure is now on Emmetts to finish the job, but no doubt St Gabriels will have a big say in how this Championship plays out. The final will be like a local derby as most of both teams live in the Harrow area of West London.
Sean Ryan, Paul Horkan, Sean Finn, Fergus McMahon, Tagdh Healy, Rory Costello, Cathal Keogh, Daryll Roberts and Eoin Chawke were all in excellent form for Robert Emmetts.
It will be interesting to now see how many of this star-studded Kilburn team bounce back. No doubt Tom Bergin and Francis Keating will do their utmost to lift the spirits of the beaten favourites.
Kilburn’s Gaule, Hickey, Nollag Brophy, Chrisopher McAlinden, Browne, Duggan, Ross Horan, Barry Kiely and Mark Dwyer were among the best performers in defeat.
Corner-back Hickey was a nominee for player of the year in 2014, but although he had a good game I didn’t pick him in my team of the week because both Emmetts’ goals came from his side of the field.
About six and a half minutes of extra time were played unnecessarily, but fortunately for Emmetts the Gaels couldn’t find an equaliser.
ST GABRIELS V SEAN TREACY’S
Beforehand, in the other semi-final, St Gabriels got the job done as the accurate Eoin Kelly delivered for the West London outfit, who made no mistakes to advance to the final with a 1-22 to 0-5 win over Sean Treacy’s.
Gabriels, by their own high standards, might have laboured a little through this year’s Championship, but just when they needed it most they produced a devastating display of their hurling powers to destroy their opponents.
In a cold and windy Ruislip, Sean Treacy’s were valiant and honest in their efforts and for the first 45 minutes or so they managed to stay in touch, but eventually the dam burst and there was no stopping of the St Gabriels tidal advance.
Yet the signs were ominous for the losers from the early minutes of the match. Barely 60 seconds had elapsed when powerful centre-forward Kevin Coen sped through the Treacy’s defence before pointing.
All of Grabriels’ first touches were true and their passes invariably hit the midriff of blue and gold jerseys. St Gabriels in full flight, it must be acknowledged, are quite an exceptional force and they called on their entire repertoire of talents to deliver an almost complete performance.
Sean Treacy’s battled and scrapped admirably, their effort and commitment was unquestionable, but in the end they just had to succumb to a superior force. St Gabriels have a superb captain in Martin Ryan – he is a leader, a former Galway player, and scored some great points on Saturday.
Full-back Niall Coady, centre-back Enda Cooney, centre-forward Kevin Coen and full-forward Luke Hands are strong and physical down the middle.
Corner-backs Enda Collins and Tom Lally were impressive too. Collins is in my team of the week, while it was Lally’s best performance in the blue and gold jersey of St Gabriels.
Sean Gilchrist is settling in nicely at No.5 while Niall Rodgers is a class act in the No.7 role. Eoin Kelly scored eight points; Kevin Coen scored five from play and Shane Egan got 1-2 from play.
Wing-forward Bernard Gaffney is due a big game for the Gabs and management will be hoping it comes in the final on the first Sunday of November.
David Barden, Darren Moore, Ger Quilligan and Kevin O’Loughlin fought a good fight for Sean Treacy’s and, especially when moved to the centre, Andrew Kavanagh, Sean Clancy and John Cusack. They gave this semi-final their best shot.
The final will be between two old rivals on Sunday, November 1. St Gabriels chairman Kerril Burke and Robert Emmetts counterpart Tom Redmond have given 50 years’ service each to both clubs – two gentlemen who are so proud of their respective clubs.
St Gabriels trio Niall Coady, Frankie Tierney and Martin Martin Finn are still playing for the club, and all three were on the 2009 county final team when the Gabs faced Robert Emmetts.
Both managers, Tom Duane and Kevin McMullan, have been the backbone of their clubs; Duane since the ‘60s and McMullan since 2000, while former player and current selector Mick Nevin has provided a wonderful service to the Gabs since the ‘70s.
Yet again, it was a disappointing crowd in Ruislip. Congratulations to the County Board on a lovely new scoreboard, now how about that stand?