All Ireland Gaelic Masters
By Damian Dolan
London’s motley crew of masters proved they can still cut it, as they edged out Roscommon to record their first victory in the Gaelic Masters on a balmy Saturday evening at Greenford.
After defeats to Kildare and Offaly, the London Masters looked like they might be heading for loss number three when the Rossies opened up a five-point lead after 17 minutes, on the back of Alan Brehon’s goal.
But London, inspired by the excellent Aidan Dilllane, hit back through Noel Dunning’s goal, and it was all square going into the last two minutes, before Chris Byrne emerged as London’s hero.
The St Kiernans manager fired over twice in quick succession, and although Terence Kelly replied for Roscommon, it was enough to seal the win for a tired, but jubilant, Exiles team.
Fran Hanlon needed just 15 seconds to open the scoring for the visitors, with a lovely curling effort. Dillane levelled things up almost immediately, but Roscommon had settled quickly and Kelly set up Dermot Washington, only for the former county player to put his shot straight down Ciaran McGann’s throat.
Roscommon were moving the ball well and looking threatening. Kelly showed his pace to skin his marker and bear down on goal, only for McGann to again come to London’s rescue with an outstanding save.
He could do nothing, however, when Roscommon’s decision to opt for a more direct approach brought immediate reward.
One ball over the top caught London’s backline out and found Brehon, and he coolly rounded McGann before nonchalantly finding the net.
It was a soft goal to concede, but within two minutes Dillane had a glorious chance to find the net at the other end, only for the midfielder to pull his shot wide when he only had Chris Grogan to beat.
Kelly and Washington pointed and Roscommon led 1-3 to 0-1 after 17 minutes, with London guilty of not taking their chances. But that’s when the London comeback start, inspired by Dillane.
Having fired over a much needed score, the Kingdom Kerry Gaels man followed that with a brace of frees. London tails were up and after a neat give-and-go with Byrne, Colm Lynott picked out Dunning at the far post, and he cut inside before firing the ball past Grogan.
For the full match report pick up a copy of this week’s Irish World
LONDON: Ciaran McGann; Michael Liston, Damien McKenna, Peter Behan (0-1); Neil O’Shea, Paul Mullins, Conor Mone; James O’Connor, Aidan Dillane (0-6, 3f); Dave Byrne, Fergal Cunningham, Colm Lynott (0-1); Andy Redican, Chris Byrne (0-2), Noel Dunning (1-1): SUBS: Gerry Lynott, Bernie McManamon, Neil Gallagher, Marty McManamon, Brendan Boyle, Kevin Killan, Arron O’Brien, Eddie McGuigan, Brendan Dolan, Alan Murray, Paul Coggins, Paddy McHale, Paul Dolan.
ROSCOMMON: Chris Grogan; Pat Hoey, Liam Naughton, Shay Galvin; Tom Keane, Adrian Trayne, Joe Gorman; Don Connellan, Fran Hanlon (0-2); Kenny Bosequette (0-2), Ross O’Callaghan, Mervin Kelly; Terence Kelly (0-3, 1f), Alan Brehon (1-0), Dermot Washington (0-2, 1f). SUBS: Anthony Carroll, Gerard Nugent, Brendan Neary, Eugene Coggins, Derek Flynn, Declan Woods (0-1), Stephen Ronane, Barry O’Regan, Mark McGovern.