Fulham Irish: 2-6
Kilburn Gaels: 0-12
By Adam Shaw
Stephen Lambert landed a free with the final play of the match to secure a draw for Kilburn Gaels against Fulham Irish. The talismanic half forward scored eight of his side’s points, six of which were frees, to make sure they didn’t leave Greenford empty handed.
Eoin McCarthy and Michael Broder scored Fulham’s goals – the latter’s a stunning overhead flick – to put them in the driving seat. But Lambert held his nerve to drag Kilburn level with two late frees from difficult angles. The away side raced into an early lead as Fulham struggled to settle, allowing errors into their game which were duly punished.
Lambert notched a ‘65’ in the opening minute of the match before laying the ball on for Fergal Collins to add a point from 50 yards. He was involved again for Kilburn’s third point, collecting a loose ball before popping it up to Emmett Morrissy who landed a monster score from just behind the halfway line. Fulham finally found their feet and set upon reducing the deficit, led by their captain Shane O’Donnell. The midfielder completed the free won by Luke Slyman before adding another soon after from the centre spot.
Lambert scored another free after Paul Glennon was illegally sandwiched by Francis Ryan and Fergus O’Regan, before Collins intercepted a pass and put the ball through the posts. Ciaran Lambert got in the act with a point, using his strength to hold off his marker before powering it over the bar. Just as Kilburn threatened to run away with the game, Fulham were soon back to within a point as McCarthy saw his mishit strike squirm past John Joe Barnes. After Adam Murphy was hooked back while on the charge forward, Lambert took his personally tally to four as Kilburn nudged further ahead.
Tenacious work by Michael Harte drew an opportunity for McCarthy and the half forward made sure the effort was not in vain by landing the point.
Kilburn continued to apply pressure as the game approached halftime and, but for a fantastic block from James McSwiney, would have been rewarded with a goal.
Brave contributions from players on both sides meant they traded frees at the start of the second half; Eoin Kent took a sharp blow to the body, which gave Lambert a free, and Dermot Hayes dived straight into a scramble, resulting in an O’Donnell free for Fulham. Kevin Mooney was then on the wrong end of a strong challenge, and O’Donnell levelled things up at eight apiece with another free. Lambert continued to show superb shooting skills from the dead ball situation and put his side ahead with a free from close to halfway.
O’Donnell suffered a high tackle from his opposing free taker but gave no complaints, brushed himself off and slotted a huge score from behind his own 65-yard line. Aidan O’Leary showed good vision to find Lambert in the middle of the attacking half, who saw his shot sail through the uprights and edge Kilburn ahead once more.
A seemingly inconspicuous free from close to his own goal from David Gray resulted in a wonderful goal from Michael Broder with three minutes to play. The keeper pumped a hopeful ball forward and Broder showed great athleticism and innovation to hook it from behind him and into the top left-hand corner.
At this point Fulham thought they had the game won and entered a defensive mindset to try and see out the final few seconds. Kilburn, on the other hand, deployed desperate tactics, moving the sliotar forward as quickly as possible and fighting for every opportunity. They were rewarded with a, relatively soft, free a minute from time and Lambert did superbly well to fade it through the posts.
Then with the referee all but set to blow for full-time, Kevin Campion was tripped at the 65-yard line close to the left-hand sideline. Knowing it was likely to be the final play of the match; Lambert steadied himself and knocked the ball over the bar. There was controversy as to whether the free had been completed successfully, but the referee declared it valid, bringing an entertaining fixture to conclusion.
Fulham Irish: David Gray; James McSwiney, Donal O’Connell, Francis Ryan; Dermot Hayes, Fergus O’Regan, Eamon Sullivan; Stephen Martin, Shane O’Donnell (0-05, 5f); Eoin McCarthy (1-01), Jim Nelligan, Michael Harte; Michael Broder (1-00), Kevin Mooney, Luke Slyman.
Kilburn Gaels: John Joe Barnes; Cillian Hayden, Conor Hickey, Kevin Campion; Justin Kelly, Noel McDonnell, Aidan O’Leary; Emmett Morrissy (0-01), Fergal Collins (0-02); Adam Murphy, Stephen Lambert (0- 08, 6f, 1’65’), Paul Glennon; Michael O’Dwyer, Eoin Kent, Ciaran Lambert (0-01).