Kilburn Gaels are the kings of London

Kilburn Gaels London's hurling kings
London Senior hurling champions Kilburn Gaels

Review of the Sporting Year

While it wasn’t quite a comeback of Lazarus proportions, it was certainly a turnaround of note as Kilburn Gaels went from flirting with relegation in 2016, on the back of losing 12 players, to being crowned London senior champions for a third time with victory over Robert Emmetts in the final.

Kilburn deservedly led 1-8 to 0-6 at half-time with Sean Conlon getting the all-important goal just before the break.

But Kilburn were good value for their lead and they went on to win by 1-16 to 0-14 against an Emmetts side which was going for three-in-a-row.

The Emmetts forwards were disappointing on the day, with only one of their scores from play coming from one of their six starting forwards, while in contrast, all of Kilburn’s six starting forwards got their name on the scoreboard. Captain Stephen Lambert’s six frees would prove vital.

Kilburn did get the better of Emmetts in Round 1 of the championship, but for the rest of the summer Emmetts had the swagger of champions-elect, over the course of which they handed out three beatings to Kilburn.

Kilburn Gaels London's hurling kings
Kilburn Gaels captain Stephen Lambert receives the SHC trophy

An 11-point thrashing in the Collins Cup final was followed by a narrow Ryan Cup semi-final defeat, with Emmetts then winning the sides’ Division 1 League final meeting by 4-9 to 0-15. But Kilburn were getting closer and closer, and ultimately got their timing just right.

Emmetts and Kilburn finished the group stage ahead of a chasing pack, which was led by St Gabriels and Cuchulainns.

One had to feel for Fr Murphys, whose return to senior lasted just one season. They opened strongly with draws against St Gabriels and Cuchulainns, and had one of those being turned into a victory then things might have been different.

As it was, they faced Sean Treacys in a relegation play-off and were edged out, 1-21 to 0-15, by the south Londoners who preserved the senior status the club has held since 1984.

Kilburn Gaels London's hurling kings
London Intermediate champions Brothers Pearse

A game of high drama from first to last, saw Murphys denied an early second half goal when Michael Gordon’s fierce strike cannoned back off the underside of the Treacys’ crossbar and away.

Referee Eddie Naughton consulted with his umpire, who had initially raised his arm, before not awarding the goal. On such slender margins.

It wasn’t the most dramatic game of hurling though, as that accolade went to Sean Treacys and Roberts Emmetts.

Treacys led 2-7 to 0-5 at the break after a stunning first half display only to be overhauled by a brilliant second half comeback from Emmetts, as they won 3-14 to 4-10. Three goals in injury-time saw the lead swing one way and then the other in a crazy spell.

The senior semi-finals weren’t short of action either, as Emmetts saw off old rivals St Gabriels 1-24 to 0-16, while Cuchulainns were firmly put to the sword by Kilburn Gaels, 7-23 to 1-7.

The Intermediate Championship went the way of Brothers Pearse, who made amends for their defeat to Fr Murphys in the previous year’s final.

Kilburn Gaels London's hurling kings

Pearses’ were unbeaten in the group stage, and they took their free scoring form into their semi-final meeting with Granuaile, which they won by 6-16 to 2-9. The other semi-final was a far tighter affair as Thomas McCurtains edged out Fulham Irish by the minimum.

The final would be all Pearses, though, as they made sure of their return to senior after a two-year absence. Danny Connolly was the hero, scoring a hat-trick, as Pearses ran out 3-21 to 0-11 winners.

McCurtains did take the League Division 2 honours, after Pearses chose not to field in the final, to instead prepare for their All Britain final. Robert Emmetts had to settle for winning League Division 1, the Collins Cup and the Ryan Cup.

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