Christy Ring final: London too good for Wicklow
09 June 2012
London's Pat Sloane under pressure during the Christy Ring Cup final against Wicklow at Croke Park ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Goals win games and London carried that mantra well, as they claimed their first ever Christy Ring Cup title, firing four goals past Wicklow in the process at Croke Park this afternoon.
A brace of green flags for the Exiles in the opening half from Martin Finn (1-05) and Tony Dunne (1-01) provided the platform victory, in a game which saw Eamonn Phelan's charges hold a 2-11 to 1-08 interval lead.
Wicklow fought back on the restart, mainly thanks to the efforts of Jonathan O'Neill (0-11).
However, London stood firm with Jonathan Maher (2-04), netting a late goal to ensure a 10-point win.
Having claimed the third-tier Nicky Rackard Cup last year, London's step up to the Christy Ring Cup had already been full of drama in the lead up to this decider.
The Exiles, only scraped over Down at the semi-final stage, with extra-time required in last Saturday's replay at Ruislip to ensure a place in this afternoon's decider.
Wicklow settled quickest with O'Neill firing the first score of this game after three minutes, but London hit back with scores from Dunne and James Egan to ensure a 0-02 to 0-01 lead after nine minutes.
The sides were level on three occasions inside the opening 11 minutes, but Eamonn Phelan's charges upped their game over the 10 minutes, to power to a 2-06 to 0-03 lead.
This advantage gained in no small part by the industious work of the London full-forward line, with Jonathan Maher claiming back-to-back points.
Corner-forward Dunne subsequently finished a 19th minute effort to the back of the Wicklow net, after the Garden County had been handed a goal-scoring opportunity of their own previously at the opposite end.
A long ball inside was caught by Wicklow captain Enan Glynn, and while he beat London defender Ger Fennelly for pace, he wasn't able to connect with a low effort.
The ball eventually came through to the London attack, where a Jonathan Maher shot was finished to the net by Dunne to give London a 1-06 to 0-03 lead.
Goals were flying in at this stage, with full-forward Finn planting a 21 metre free in the back of the Wicklow net to ensure a nine-point lead.
A minute later Wicklow registered a three-pointer of their own, when O'Neill played a shot across the goalmouth, with Glynn following through to slot the ball past London keeper Tommy Williams.
Wicklow were on fire at this stage with a brace of O'Neill points cutting the deficit to four points, 10 minutes before the interval.
The sides were well matched in the closing stages of the half, but London outscored Wicklow by 0-05 to 0-02 during this period to take a 2-11 to 1-08 half-time lead.
Wicklow promised much on the restart, with the introduction of Christy Moorehouse and Liam Kennedy boosting their attack.
Casey O'Brien's charges claimed the first two points of the second half with Glynn and O'Neill on target, but the first of two second half goals from Jonathan Maher put London in the driving seat once more.
Wicklow battled bravely but with Martin Finn coming into his own from placed balls, they were beginning to find it tough.
Substitute Kevin Walsh, James Egan and captain Colm Quinn also registered some good scores to open up an eight-point lead with five minutes left on the clock.
An eleventh O'Neill point cut the deficit soonafter, with both sides goal-hungry in the closing stages.
Wicklow were denied on two occasions late on, with shots from Stephen Kelly and Andy O'Brien both blocked by London keeper Williams.
It was Jonathan Maher who tasted the final piece of the action as the Kilburn Gaels clubman cut in for a goal at the death to bring his tally to 2-04 and secure a double-scores victory.
After the game GAA President Liam O'Neill presented the Christy Ring Cup to London captain and Clare native Colm Quinn.
Scorers for London: J Maher 2-04; M Finn (1-05f) 1-05; J Egan 0-04; T Dunne 1-01; C Quinn 0-02; P Sloane, K Walsh 0-01 each.
Scorers for Wicklow: J O'Neill (6f, 1 '65) 0-11; E Glynn 1-01; A O'Brien, E Kearns 0-02 each; W O'Gorman 0-01.
LONDON: T Williams; E Walsh, B Costello, G Fennelly; L Mackey, D Maher, M Walsh; C Quinn, PJ Rowe; P Sloane, J Egan, S Egan; J Maher, M Finn, T Dunne. Subs: B Smyth for S Egan (HT); K walsh for Sloane (52); E Cooney for Dunne (62); H Vaughan for Smyth (72).
WICKLOW: J Murphy; J Connors, G Keogh, B Cuddihy; J Henderson, S Kelly, G Bermingham; E Kearns, R Keddy; T Doyle, W O'Gorman, E Dunne; E Glynn, J O'Neill, A O'Brien. Subs: E O'Neill for Connors (18); C Moorehouse for Doyle (HT); L Kennedy for Dunne (HT).
REFEREE: David Hughes (Carlow)