All-Britain Inter-County JFC Rnd 1
By Damian Dolan
At McGovern Park
Thirteen-man Warwickshire edged out London in a pulsating and feisty encounter in Ruislip to set up a second round meeting with Hertfordshire at Pairc na hErieann.
The sides couldn’t be separated after an end-to-end first half, but the tie looked to have swung in London’s favour when Daniel Kennedy received his marching orders for a second bookable offence nine minutes into the second half.
Warwickshire led by two at the time, and seven minutes later they were reduced to 13-men when Andy Wills was shown a straight red card after tempers flared in an incident which also saw London’s Ronan Devlin sent off.
The home side, however, couldn’t make their extra man tell, wasting a succession of chances and Warwickshire held on to progress to the next round, as they look to be crowned British champions for the first time since 2005.
When Michael Harrigian hit the angle of London’s crossbar and post in the second minute it was a clear indicator of what was to follow in the first half.
For both London and Warwickshire, attack was definitely the best form of defence, with both sides far more adept at scoring points than stopping them at the other end.
— Official Warwickshire GAA (@warwickshireclg) May 13, 2018
But while the visitors were doing most of the early pressing, London were the more clinical. In Padraig McGoldrick, Conor Murray and John Daly they carried an abundance of attacking prowess, and Daly was involved in setting up Murray to beat Macauly Felgate, despite the Thomas McCurtains man slipping as he let fly.
Ronan Devlin tagged on a point and London led 1-4 to 0-1. But the visitors hit back through Conal Dowling, playing much further up the pitch than the number six on his back might suggest.
Dowling knocked over a score and then beat Liam Gill to the punch in the race to Andy Wills through ball, for the visitors opening goal.
Warwickshire carried plenty of attacking threat of their own. Naill Gilbride was pouring forward at every opportunity, while Kevin Ryan was enjoying far too much space for the London management team’s liking. The early introduction of Brendan Scannell and Oscar Ward was an attempt to gain some control at the back.
London’s second goal was sublime, involving two exquisite crossfield balls, from Mark Beirne and then Murray, before McGoldrick applied the finish. It restored London’s six-point lead, but within a minute Mark O’Hare’s shot left Gill rooted to the spot, as the half forward found the corner of the London net.
Three minutes later Warwickshire had their third goal as the visitors picked their way through the London defence with ease, before Dowling beat the totally exposed Gill. Warwickshire had their noses in front for the first time in the game.
However, the home side were back on level terms by the break, 2-8 to 3-5. The interval allowed everyone to take a breather and brace themselves for a second instalment.
The second half, though, would never hit the same heights, shaped as it was by the red cards.
Warwickshire got their noses back in front early on through Kennedy and Harrigian, and despite Kennedy and Wills seeing red, and Devlin for London, the visitors never relinquished that lead.
London will rue the succession of wides they racked up – four in a row at one point – and to within one-point was as close as they got.
‘Dig in’ was the call when Warwickshire went down to 13-men, and they certainly did that at McGovern Park.
Warwickshire: Macualy Felgate; Eamon Culliney, Liam Gilbride, Shane Keogh; Michael Mannion, Canal Dowling (2-2), Paddy Kilkenny; Niall Gilbride (0-1), Andy Wills; Kevin Ryan (0-3, 2f), Joe Owens (0-2), Mark O’Hare; Caonin Folan (1-0), Daniel Kennedy (0-1), Michael Harrigian (0-2). Subs: Conor Rowe for Kilkenny, Damien Harte for O’Hare
London: Liam Gill; Cathal Flynn, Mark Beirne, Stephen Griffey; Aidan McGarvey, John Winters, Rhys Lennon; Niall Coffey (0-1), John Daly (0-3, 2f); James McDermott, Ronan Devlin (0-2), Clive Mills; Conor Murray (1-4), Padraig McGoldrick (1-3, 2f), Jonathan Lynn-Roberts. Subs: Brendan Scannell for McGarvey, Oscar Ward for Griffey, Sean Lavery (0-1) for Scannell, Colm Kenny for Mills.