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London boss McMullan has Galway hurler in his sights

McMullan has Galway hurler Ronan O'Meara in his sights
19 January 2019; Ronan O’Meara of Galway in action against Cathal Dunbar of Wexford during the Bord na Móna Walsh Cup Final match between Wexford and Galway at Bellefield in Enniscorthy, Wexford. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

By Damian Dolan

London hurling manager Kevin McMullan says Galway and Portumna hurler Ronan O’Meara is a player very much on his radar. O’Meara’s transfer to St Gabriel’s went through last week.

He featured for the tribesmen in the Walsh Cup final in January, having previously represented the county at Under 21 and minor.

In 2014 he helped Portumna win a fourth All-Ireland senior club championship, on the back of scoring 1-2 in their semi-final win over Limerick’s Na Piarsaigh.

“I’m going to be chasing him very hard,” McMullan told the Irish World. “He’s meant to be very, very good.”

McMullan hopes that the presence in the London panel already of two fellow Portumna clubmen – Oisin Royston and Padraig Muldoon – might help sway O’Meara to pull on a London jersey.

McMullan has Galway hurler Ronan O'Meara in his sights
8 February 2014; Ronan O’Meara, Portumna, celebrates after scoring his side’s goal. AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Semi-Final, Portumna, Galway v Na Piarsaigh, Limerick. Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Picture credit: Ray Ryan / SPORTSFILE

“I haven’t spoken to him personally, but he’s good friends with Oisin,” added the Exiles boss.

If he does decide to throw his lot in with London, O’Meara will first need to play a qualifying championship game for new club Gabriel’s.

One round of ‘seeding’ championship games was played in January to help several players qualify for the county’s hurlers and footballers.

O’Meara’s addition would augment a forward line already containing Kerry’s Jack Goulding, and the likes of Shane Lawless, Aaron Sheehan and David Nolan. It’s an exciting prospect.

London travel to Dr Hyde Park on Sunday (16 February) to face Roscommon in Round 3 of the league still looking for their first win, but on the back of an excellent comeback against Derry.

The Exiles looked dead and buried, trailing by 14 points with 15 minutes of normal time remaining, only to fightback to go down by just three in the end.

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McMullan has Galway hurler Ronan O'Meara in his sights
London hurling manager Kevin McMullan. Photo: Sheila Fernandes

A second defeat for London at the end of day, but one that has left the panel and its manager upbeat. “We’ll be well up for Roscommon”, said McMullan afterwards.

While disappointed to come up short, London will make the trip in reasonable fettle and confident they can register their first win of the campaign.

“We’re getting there” added London’s new manager and the evidence was there to back up that statement, following their opening round 12-point loss to Kerry.

McMullan is right to be “quietly confident” in the team he has assembled. They are indeed “growing in confidence” and their total points tallies of 2-18 versus Derry and 0-20 against Kerry suggest a team with scores in it.

“We’re going to improve more than other teams are going to improve,” he said.

McMullan has Galway hurler Ronan O'Meara in his sights
London’s Kevin Reid. Photo: Sheila Fernandes

Waiting for them at Hyde Park on Sunday is a Roscommon side still no doubt nursing the bruises from their 3-23 to 0-11 battering at the hands of Down.

London will also take some encouragement from Roscommon’s win over Warwickshire in Round 1. While Chris Brough’s side were second-best on the day, the final winning margin was only 12 points. Hardly a landslide.

London will surely see Sunday as an opportunity to carry on the momentum of their good finish against Derry, and pick up their first points against a possibly fragile Roscommon side.

To add an extra edge to Sunday’s Round 3 tie, it will be the first meeting between the sides since Roscommon’s Christy Ring Cup win over the Exiles at Ruislip last year.

The Rossies’ 1-25 to 2-12 victory ended London’s hopes of progressing to the semi-finals, with the home side finishing the game with just 13-men.

Shane Kelly’s side would eventually need a relegation play-off to secure Christy Ring again this year.

McMullan has Galway hurler Ronan O'Meara in his sights
Roscommon came out on top when they travelled to McGovern Park last year in the Christy Ring. Photo: Sheila Fernandes

Goalkeeper Padraig Buckley, Padraig Muldoon, Kevin Reid, Shane Lawless, Aaron Sheehan, Colin Nelson and David Nolan all survive from that bleak day at Ruislip eight months ago. All will have a point to prove on Sunday one suspects.

“We definitely want to answer that,” Reid told the Irish World. “It was a game we’d targeted on our own patch to win, and they came over and beat us convincingly in the end.

“We felt we let ourselves down last year – the scorelines didn’t represent a true reflection of us.

“Even though we’ve a lot of new lads in, we’ve a lot of lads who were there last year and we definitely want to get a performance together.”

He added: “It will be a tough trip to Roscommon, but hopefully we can build on Derry.”

Having played arguably the best two teams in Div 2B – Kildare and Derry – an improving London can see a way to gate-crash the final.

It will mean winning all three of their remaining games, but with Down having to travel to Ruislip in Round 4, the Exiles will feel that it’s a far from unachievable goal.

Win on Sunday and things could start to get very interesting very quickly for the Exiles.

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