By Damian Dolan
London hurling manager Shane Kelly is adamant the Exiles will “be ready” when the Christy Ring Cup gets underway in May.
London were unceremoniously put to the sword by Kerry, 3-27 to 1-11, at McGovern Park last Saturday.
While disappointed by the manner and the margin of the loss – the Exiles were a long way off the pace – Meath at Páirc Tailteann on 12 May remains Kelly’s target.
“We’ve a lot done, but we’ve a lot to do. We’ve a system in place that come the start of the Christy Ring we’ll be ready,” Kelly told the Irish World.
“We’re trying to gel the guys together and to be fair they’re really pulling together at training. I can’t fault them.
“We need match practice – we’re missing a bit of sharpness. And you could see how sharp Kerry were. The same goes for Westmeath and Meath.”
While last Saturday was just London’s third competitive match of 2019 – their Round 2 fixture having fallen victim to a frozen pitch – it was Kerry’s seventh.
“It’s still early in the year; 12 May is the day we’re looking towards,” said Kelly.
“We can learn from our mistakes today and the players will learn. We need more time together and more games, and it will come. It will come.”
The Exiles will look to “right the wrongs” of their 22-point defeat to Kerry, when they travel to Antrim on Sunday, before facing Mayo at Ruislip in a potential relegation decider.
“We’ll be looking to get a good performance in against Antrim and get things a bit sharper. Mayo at McGovern Park is going to be a big game – it could be all or nothing,” said Kelly.
He added: “I said to the boys afterwards ‘Kerry have been hurling against serious opposition’. They’ll be looking to win the Joe McDonagh.
“But we have to learn from our mistakes. They caught us on the hop, and we were always trying to claw it back once they got the start on us.
“The scoreline speaks for itself; we were out-fought and out-thought by a far superior team on the day.
“From start to finish they were on top of us. It was rare we had any breathing space at all. We couldn’t implement our game.
“The lads’ heads are down but they know that they made silly mistakes and gave the ball away too easily.”