Sporting Review of the Year
There were no cows milked in Fulham the night Greg McCartan’s south Londoners claimed a second-ever senior championship title.
Six years after winning their first senior London title, Fulham Irish secured number two with a hard-fought victory over Tir Chonaill Gaels.
All and sundry expected it to be a tight and close contest, and so it proved with former Tyrone star Owen Mulligan landing an injury-time free to win it.
Even then the Gaels, who were looking to make amends for their defeat in the 2016 final at the hands of St Kiernans, had chances to snatch a replay, but this was to be Fulham Irish’s year.
The Gaels had moved confidently through the group stage, seeing off Parnells, Round Towers and Kingdom Kerry Gaels, while Fulham put the cat amongst the pigeons by beating defending champions Kiernans in round 1.
They’ll be no cows milked in Fulham tonight. @FulhamIrish thanks for dragging me over the line. London senior champions. 🍀🍀🍀
— owen mulligan (@owen_mulligan) October 22, 2017
Kiernans, though, edged out North London Shamrocks to join Fulham in the semi-finals, while Round Towers advanced alongside the Gaels from the other group.
Fulham would have too much for Towers in their semi-final, while the Gaels held off St Kiernans in the other semi thanks to two goals from Killian Butler, to set up an eagerly awaited final meeting between Fulham and Tir Chonaill Gaels.
In advance of which the Fulham Irish management provided one of the photos of the year, laying out the ‘home’ club jerseys of all of the players on the dressing room floor in a huge circle.
That was the sight which greeted the players when they came into the changing room following their final warm up.
It provided a hugely powerful image, and no doubt played some part in the team’s success that day.
The final itself seemed destined for extra-time, however, until Mulligan stepped up in injury-time. Fulham’s celebrations and the Gaels’ disappointment showed exactly what it meant to both clubs.
Fulham’s reserve side made it a double celebration by also winning the Reserve Championship the same day.
Snow, however, denied Fulham Irish a crack at Connacht and Galway champions Corofin, with their All Ireland Club Senior Football Championship quarter-final held over to January after the game had to be postponed. All back to McGovern Park then on 21 January for the refixed game.
Elsewhere, Parnells held on to their senior status by beating Neasden Gaels in the relegation play-off, to condemn Neasden to intermediate football in 2018.
The Intermediate Championship went the way of Cuchulainns, who marked their 85th Anniversary in style by beating Harlesden Harps in the final, while Thomas McCurtains held off Dulwich Harps to take the honours in the Junior Championship.
It would be a great year for McCurtains who also took the Division 3 League and then won the play-off for the right to represent London in the All-Britain.
Consolation for Kiernans came by retaining the Division 1 League, with victory over a North London Shamrocks side which set the pace earlier in the season.
The Division 2 title went the way of Parnells, but only after overcoming a St Brendans side along the way which fielded a pair of corner forwards with a combined age of 128.
With Brendans desperately short of numbers, despite the fact that victory would have sent them through to a final with Cuchulainns instead of Parnells, St Brendans club stalwarts Paddy Corscadden (72) and John Malone (56) were forced to tog out – Corscadden in jeans and Malone in a pair of golf shoes. It provided another contender for image of the year.
Other notable successes from the year saw Round Towers pick up the Tipperary Cup, beating Kingdom Kerry Gaels in the final, while KKG beat Parnells to win the Conway Cup.
The Murphy Cup went to St Brendans, and the McArdle Cup to Dulwich Harps. The Sean Shiels Cup was won by Harlesden Harps and Mullarkey Cup to Eire Og.