London end 36-year wait for Connacht championship glory
Fourteen men hold on as wasteful Sligo pay the price for kicking 14 wides
Lorcan Mulvey scores what proved the goal for London Photographs: Inpho/Jim Keogh
London manager Paul Coggins is carried by the jubilant team members after their famous victory. Photograph: Jim Keogh/Inpho
The Exiles, who played the majority of the second half with 14 men, survived a nervy finish to overcome Sligo by the narrowest of margins at the north-west London venue.
While London did taste championship success against Fermanagh in the All-Ireland qualifiers in 2011, this was their first provincial triumph since a 1977 win against Leitrim, who they’ll face in a Connacht semi-final on June 23rd.
Coggins, who described the performance as the best of his three-year reign, said: “This is our biggest result since I came in but this isn’t the limit of our ambition. I still believe this team is capable of more.”
Sligo, who were without the services of star forward David Kelly, paid the price for their wastefulness in front of the posts, kicking 14 wides to London’s six.
The visitors actually opened the scoring with just 30 seconds on the clock when a goal attempt from Adrian Marren was pushed over the crossbar by London goalkeeper Declan Traynor. However, it was the 20th minute before Sligo scored again.
Mark Gottsche, who turned in a man-of-the-match display for London, levelled the scores with a free from 50 yards out, before they found the net in the 13th minute to move into a lead they would never relinquish.
After some good work by Greg Crowley, Ciaran McCallion surged through the Sligo defence before offloading to former Cavan player Lorcan Mulvey, who finished neatly beyond Philip Greene in the Sligo goal.
That score put the momentum firmly behind London and they capitalised with three unanswered points from Mulvey, Gottsche and the excellent Cathal McGee.
Marren finally broken Sligo’s barren spell and Mark Breheny added another point from a free with 23 minutes on the clock, after which Gottsche put London back into a five-point lead with a 45.
The visitors trailed by 1-6 to 0-5 at the interval. London extended their lead to seven points – 1-10 to 0-6 – before Sligo were thrown a lifeline.
Fifteen minutes into the second period, Padraig McGoldrick was given his marching orders after being shown a second yellow card for a foul on Neil Ewing. It capped a miserable afternoon for the former Sligo player who also had a first-half penalty saved.
McGoldrick’s dismissal eventually sprung Sligo to life and they hit eight points in the final 17 minutes – two from Charlie Harrison, three from Tony Taylor, one each from Breheny and Pat Hughes, as well as an outstanding effort from substitute Niall Murphy.
But London, thanks to points from Mulvey and Seán Kelly, remained a point to the good in the dying moments as Sligo’s onslaught continued. With one last throw of the dice, Hughes received a pass from Brian Curran but he punched the ball against the crossbar with the last play of the game, before the celebrations began for the Irish in London.
LONDON: D Traynor; KLynam, S Curran, D McGreevy; S Hannon, S Mulligan, T Gaughan; M Gottche (0-4, one free, one 45), C Doyle; G Crowley, C McCallion, B Mitchell (0-1); P McGoldrick (0-1f), L Mulvey (1-2), C McGee (0-3). Subs: B Collins for Lynam (17 mins), P Geraghty for Mitchell (51 mins), S Kelly (0-1) for McCallion (60 mins), D Dunleavy for Doyle (67 mins), E McConville for Mulligan (68 mins).
SLIGO: P Greene; K Cawley, R Donovan, N Ewing; C Harrison (0-3), A McIntyre, B Curran; S Gilmartin, T Taylor (0-3); BEgan, P Hughes (0-1), S McManus; M Breheny (0-4, two frees), A Marren (0-2), F Quinn. Subs: J Kilcullen for Gilmartin (47 mins), N Murphy (0-1) for Egan (51 mins).
Referee: Pádraig O’Sullivan (Kerry)