Black cards and slick Sligo ensure no repeat of 2013
By Damian Dolan
At McGovern Park, Ruislip
The Yeats county belied a difficult league campaign to ensure there was no repeat of London’s famous victory five years ago, when Sligo last set foot inside Ruislip.
But London, second-best in the first half, burst out of the blocks at the start of the second period, racking up three unanswered scores, inspired by captain Liam Gavaghan, substitute Liam Irwin and Fearghal McMahon to bring them to within just four points of the visitors.
Although Sligo ‘keeper Aidan Devaney replied with a 45, the momentum was with the Exiles who were enjoying their best spell of the game.
But they were then dealt a huge blow when midfielder Gottsche, man of the match against Sligo in 2013, was black carded. Three minutes later the Exiles lost full back Ciaran Dunne to a similar fate.
“It swung momentum back in Sligo’s favour,” said London manager Deely. “We started the second half well and scored three points.
“Liam Irwin came in and kicked a score straight away and things were looking up. Then that black card happened and we lost a very good player in Mark Gottsche, who we needed on the pitch.
“It really took the wind out of our sails.”
Sligo had led by ten-points at one stage in the first half, aided by Aidan Marren’s penalty. The visitors settled quicker to the task and were able to play their own game, while the home side struggled to impose itself.
“We were a little bit stand-offish and we allowed Sligo to take the initiative,” said Deely.
“That’s something we hoped before the game we wouldn’t allow to happen. We sat back a little bit and they picked off a few scores, and it wasn’t until half way through the first half that we realised that we can compete in this game and we were as good as a lot of these [Sligo] lads.”
A goal from Fearghal McMahon – an injury doubt in the build up – gave London a much-needed lift just before the interval, but the home side still trailed by 1-10 to 1-3.
“They [Sligo] performed close to their maximum. They moved the ball very well, they were very athletic, they picked off some great points in the first half,” said Deely.
“We were expecting them to be a good team, but they’ve obviously come on a lot since the end of the league.”
London came into the game with high hopes that they could repeat their 2013 victory, but
Deely conceded that the day had been “overall disappointing”, as the Exiles only showed glimpses of their league form.
“I just said to the lads afterwards that I’m frustrated and sorry for the players themselves that they didn’t show the quality that they have,” he added.
“In flashes we showed near our best, in terms of the goal and a couple of times and turning the ball over in defence, but if you were to look at our best performances throughout the league, today was a long way off that.
“Obviously we were playing against a top-quality opposition, a Division 3 team, so it was always going to be difficult, but I don’t think we were near our best.”
London will now await the qualifying draw and hope for a favourable opponent, and ideally a home match back at McGovern Park.
Deely is confident that the Exiles, just as they did last year to put it up to Carlow, will lick their wounds from this chastening defeat, regroup and bounce back.
He said: “I’ve been in this situation with Wexford as a player and then with London – we just get on with the task.
“I always find that the best thing is to get back out on the training pitch. Don’t take a break.
“Everything feels a little bit better when you’re kicking around a football. We’ll stay close as a group…we’ll get back on it and we’ll wait to see who we get in the qualifiers.
“I just hope we get a decent enough draw, one that we can compete in, and give the lads the opportunity to show the quality that they have.”