By Conor Martin
London manager Michael Maher lamented his side’s lack of clincialness as the Exiles narrowly went down 0-8 to 0-7 to Limerick in Rathkeale on Sunday afternoon.
Put to the sword seven days earlier by Sligo, Maher was pleased by the response of his players, but there was no mistaking the feeling that this was a missed opportunity to pick up two points.
“We are 100 per cent disappointed not to have won the game,” Maher told the Irish World.
“The work-rate, application and chances we created deserved the two points, but we will address what went wrong in the attacking third and try and fix it for next weekend.
“We just lacked a little bit of clinical forward play to get over the line, but we can’t expect miracles off a team that is only two games playing together.”
London return to McGovern Park on Sunday (9 February) for the visit of Antrim.
— Official London GAA (@LondainGAA) February 2, 2020
The visitors, playing into the wind, seemed to be in full attacking flow when they took a three-point to no score lead after just ten minutes, thanks to James Hynes, Tommy Clarke and Sean Hickey.
Despite having wasted first use of the wind, Limerick recovered to lead 0-4 to 0-3 at the break.
And by the three-quarter mark they’d extended that lead to 0-7 to 0-4.
London captain Liam Gavaghan then landed a free and straight from the resulting kick-out, which got caught on the wind, Hickey had a golden chance to raise the first green flag of the game when he found himself bearing down on goal.
But just as against Sligo, Hickey saw his effort flash just wide of the post.
Full time score in Allianz Football League Limerick 0.08 London 0.07
— Limerick GAA (@LimerickCLG) February 2, 2020
Had it gone in, it may have given London the platform to go on and record their first win of the new season.
In the closing minutes, Seán Nolan and Jamie Lee (free) traded scores, and Kevin Rafferty pointed from distance for the Exiles, but London couldn’t manufacture an equalising point.
Despite taking the lack of London game time into account, Maher pulled no punches with regards to where London were sloppy and the mistakes which cost them the match.
“When you concede eight points you should be expecting to win games, but we kicked a few too many wides and gave away possession of the ball after entering Limerick’s 45,” he said.
Matt Moynihan and Philip Butler were two of the strong backline figures, and proved hard to crack for the Limerick forward line.
They and the rest of the London backline did their jobs well when Limerick got inside the London 45, and prevented the hosts from raising a green flag.
Despite the frustration of not picking up the win, the signs are there that London’s heavy loss to Sligo was a blip. This side is far better than that showing would suggest.
Maher’s players have clearly corrected the errors of Sligo. Defensively they impressed;
goalkeeper Noel Maher and his backline limited Limerick to points between the posts and kept a clean sheet.
A huge positive after seeing their net breached five times by the Yeats Men, and one which prompted Maher to herald last Sunday’s performance as an “outstanding” one.
“The result last week (versus Sligo) was disheartening for everyone, and it would have been conceivable for the players to be nervous going into today’s game on the back of conceding five goals.”
Despite the loss the closeness in the result will give London confidence that they can match the rest of Division 4, with Limerick tipped for promotion.
It was also the Treaty men’s fifth consecutive win this year – including a first McGrath Cup in 15 years.
London will now look to kick on from this resilient performance and take it into Sunday’s game with Antrim.
“I’m very proud of the character of the team, and hopefully now we can put on a strong display against Antrim,” added Maher.
With Antrim suffering a narrow loss in Sligo last Sunday, London will be cautious but hopeful.