By Larry Cooney in Arklow
London are off the basement of Division 2A after a hard earned three-point victory over Wicklow at a sunny Pearse Park, Arklow last Sunday afternoon. Powered by the return of their Kilburn Gaels representatives, including Stephen Lambert, the Exiles produced a much improved second-half performance after a sluggish error-ridden opening period despite having the benefit of the wind blowing into the pavilion end. And it was substitute Lambert who hit the decisive third goal with fifteen minutes remaining to finally put daylight between the visitors and the battling Garden County men.
The Exiles trailed by 1-3 to 0-4 with thirteen minutes remaining in the opening half. Mark O’Dwyer should have done better when the sliotar dropped in behind the Wicklow defence in the twenty-third minute before a Bernard Gaffney pointed free left just a point between the sides a minute later. But after a brace from Gaffney, including one from play, eventually edged the Exiles in front with seven minutes of normal time remaining in the half, the London full forward made amends on the half-hour with a splendid solo-goal. And following a foul on O’Dwyer in the final minute of normal time Bernard Gaffney hit the final score of the half to leave the half-time score: London 1-8 Wicklow 1-3.
The visitors would have been grateful for their five-point interval platform but a fast start to the second half from the hosts with three unanswered points in the opening four minutes also left the Exiles’ position now looking quite precarious. Points from a Jonathan O’Neill free and a brace from Daniel Staunton therefore required a swift response from the Exiles.
Under pressure Wicklow goalkeeper Wayne O’Gorman picked the sliotar off the ground to give Gaffney the opportunity to respond from the resultant free with a point before Michael Ivors picked off a neat point in the forty-fourth minute.
And it got even better for the visitors a minute later when a foraging Mark O’Dwyer out on the right corner picked out an onrushing Philip Murphy to slam the ball to the net to make the score 2-10 to 1-6. But while London had noticeably upped their game in the third quarter, the hosts were also far from being a beaten docket.
In fact the men in blue and gold had good reason to rue a host of wasted scoring opportunities in a very well contested second half after they hit an amazing fifteen wides. Consequently they only added two further points through midfielder Eamon Kearns and another Jonathan O’Neill free after fifty-two minutes before Lambert struck the all important third goal for London.
For the full report, see the March 14 Irish World.