Allianz NFL Div 4 – Rnd 3
By Damian Dolan
At McGovern Park, Ruislip
Hard to know if this was one point dropped or one gained by London, as Anthony McDermott’s goal, deep into injury-time, salvaged a dramatic share of the spoils for Ciaran Deely’s men.
Despite the natural euphoria which accompanied McDermott’s late strike, ultimately the Exiles are likely to feel it was the former – this was definitely one that got away.
Limerick seemed there for the taking, having failed to capitalise on first use of a strong wind in the first half, and London will never have a better chance of registering a first victory over the Treaty men since 1999.
When Adrian Moyles, something of a revelation in his new half back role, fired over twice in quick succession, it looked as if London would push on and close the game out, with just six minutes of normal time remaining.
Even more so when Jamie Lee missed a very scoreable free. But just as the announcement was made that there would be a minimum of six additional minutes, Limerick broke down field through Seamus O’Carroll.
Patrick Begley got in a superb block as O’Carroll let fly, but fortune favoured Limerick as the rebound fell to Josh Ryan and he nearly burst the net for his second goal of the game.
O’Carroll tagged on an insurance point, and the home side trailed by three with just three of those additional minutes left. Game, set and almost match.
But if Deely didn’t already know that he has a team bursting with character and heart, then he certainly does now.
One suspects he probably already did. Even so, it will have been mightily pleasing to see his side dig deep mentally and physically to go down the other end and manufacture a late equalising goal, with Liam Staunton and Ryan Elliott setting up McDermott.
Playing into a strong wind in the first half London’s tactics were clear from the opening moments, keep hold the ball and limit the damage on the scoreboard.
A Lee free opened the scoring, but the visitors weren’t causing the home side too many concerns defensively, aside from Gavin McEvoy having to produce one excellent save to deny Ryan.
The Exiles, though, were largely untroubled as the minutes continued to tick down, and on 17 minutes they went ahead as Elliott was fouled as he tried to make something of Fearghal McMahon’s ball in.
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McMahon stepped up and coolly put the ball straight down the middle of the goal, as Donal O’Sullivan committed himself to his right.
Limerick were wasting chances and when Gareth Noonan pointed in the 28th minute to make it 1-1 to 0-3 it was the visitors first from play.
London’s ease in possession, evident against Wicklow, then saw them keep possession for an impressive two minutes, before an injection of pace from Colin Dunne led to Tom Waters firing over.
London led 1-2 to 0-4 with two minutes of the half remaining – a scoreline they would have undoubtedly taken.
But they couldn’t see the half out, and no one could say they weren’t warned about where the threat was likely to come from, Limerick’s sizeable forward Ryan.
Having beaten McEvoy to the rebound, after Danny Neville’s shot had come back off the post, only to see his fisted effort narrowly go wide, Ryan made amends a minute later as his low shot found the far corner of McEvoy’s net, beyond the fingertips of the London ‘keeper’s despairing dive.
That saw Limerick take a 1-4 to 1-2 lead into the break, but despite Ryan’s late intervention the home side would have settled for a two-point deficit at the outset. With the wind now at their backs London were expected to put Limerick to the sword.
But that in itself brings a different type of pressure, and Limerick registered the halves’ opening score through Daniel Daly. It was his last contribution as he was injured in the act of shooting.
A Moyles (free) levelled and Liam Gavaghan reduced the gap to one, but Limerick players were falling like flies, and that wasn’t aiding the home side’s efforts to get any rhythm into their play.
McMahon and Moyles (free) edged London ahead, only for Lee’s free to immediately level and the corner forward then struck from play to nudge the visitors back in front with ten to go.
Limerick had really rolled up their sleeves in the second half, while London were struggling to impose themselves.
Moyles’ double (one free) looked like being the turning point for the Exiles, but that was only the catalyst for the late drama that was to unfold. Up next for London at McGovern Park on 25 February are Antrim, who are unbeaten after the opening three rounds of action.
LONDON: Gavin McEvoy; Phillip Butler, Ryan Jones Patrick Begley; Colin Dunne, Shane McManus, Adrian Moyles (0-4, 3f); Anthony McDermott (1-0), James Moran; Marcus Mangan, Liam Gavaghan (0-1), Tom Waters (0-1); Ryan Elliott (0-1), Mark Gottsche, Fearghal McMahon (1-1, Pen). Subs: Liam Staunton for Dunne (59min), Martin Carroll for Gottsche (69min).
LIMERICK: Donal O’Sullivan; Gareth Noonan (0-1), Sean O’Dea, Brian Fanning; Daniel Daly (0-1), Paul White, Jim Liston; Darragh Treacy, David Ward; David Connolly, Cillian Fahy, Tony McCarthy; Josh Ryan (2-0), Danny Neville (0-1), Jamie Lee (0-4, 3f). Subs: Seamus O’Carroll (0-1) for Daly (39min), Peter Nash for Treacy (51min), Padraig De Brun for McCarthy (51min), Shane Doherty for Noonan (59min), Tommy Griffin for Ward (65min), Sean McSweeney for Lee (70+3min).
REFEREE: Sean Laverty (Antrim).