By Damian Dolan
London’s hurlers can “build massively” on their win over Warwickshire and take it into the Christy Ring, says manager Kevin McMullan.
London came out on top, 1-20 to 0-5, in the sides’ relegation play-off at Ruislip on Sunday to send their near neighbours down to Division 3A.
The focus is now fully on London’s Christy Ring opener away to Down on 9/10 May, and McMullan says his team will be ready after what he admits has been an “eye-opening” league campaign.
“Today’s win was massive for morale,” McMullan told the Irish World.
“The league has put us in great stead; we know what we need to do and how we need to approach these games.”
They’ve ground to make up in the coming weeks – Down had 14 points to spare over London when the sides met at Ruislip.
McMullan’s charges must also face Roscommon and Kildare for a second time – the Rossies edged out London by three points at Dr Hyde Park, while Kildare won by 12 in Newbridge.
“We get two bites at them and we’ll go at them again,” said McMullan, who is confident London can close the gap on their Christy Ring opponents between now and May.
“The lads are under no illusion as to what we’re up against – Down are one hell of a team – but we believe we can go there and give them a game,” he said.
“We know what we need to work on; fitness and sharper striking, and we also need more games. But we’ve eight weeks and that’s loads of time.”
Overall, McMullan says London’s league campaign wasn’t “too bad”, although the aim at the start of the year was to be in a league final, rather than a relegation play-off.
“Kildare came too early for us and another five minutes and we would have had Derry – we were well on top,” he said.
“And although we got beaten by Down by 14 points, we were at fault for those points.
“We’re not too bad a team – the scores just didn’t show it. It will click.”
Although happy that he and his selectors picked the right panel for London – “lads who want to be here” – McMullan expects there to be changes to the squad for championship.
He’s still hopeful of bringing in Galway hurler Ronan O’Meara, who has transferred to St Gabriel’s.
“If he’s as good as people say he’ll bring something special to the forward line and that brings competition,” he said.
“Ideally, we want a panel of 30 and two people per position, and then it’s a fight for that jersey.”
McMullan was particularly pleased that Warwickshire were unable to find the back of the London net at McGovern Park on Sunday – Chris Brough’s side had raised five green flags in their games with Roscommon, Down and Derry.
The London boss, though, was less satisfied with his side’s overall first half display, despite the home side taking a 0-10 to 0-3 lead.
“We were a bit sluggish – we didn’t get into the groove of it,” he said.
“I told them I wasn’t happy and it had to be better in the second half, and they went out and they performed.”
He added: “The boys will have a week off now and when they come back we’ll start our Christy Ring campaign, but we won’t be thinking any further than Down.”