London 4-18 Wicklow 1-17
Croke Park continues to remain the happiest of hunting grounds for London’s hurlers.
A year after claiming the Nicky Rackard Cup at HQ, Eamonn Phelan’s charges were crowned Christy Ring champions after crushing Wicklow on Saturday.
And Phelan never doubted the outcome: "I always believed we had good hurlers in London. The biggest thing was to get lads to work hard and believe they were good enough. We wanted them to believe that if they put the effort in, they got their due rewards. The thing was to get to Croke Park. We knew if we got here we had the players to win. We knew we had the pace, we knew the lads could deliver. It was just to get here.
"Wicklow came at us in the first five minutes and we looked under serious pressure. We weathered the storm and after that took control of the situation and really looked comfortable."
Burgess native, Jonathan Maher terrorised Wicklow with a brilliant performance that yielded 3-4 from play. The Kilburn Gaels man had 1-3 on the board in the first half.
The teams were level three times early on but when Maher scored his first goal in the 20th minute, London opened up a five point lead. It got even better for London two minutes later, when Dromina man, Martin Finn blasted an unstoppable shot to the roof of the net from a 20m free.
Enan Glynn kept his side in contention with a close range finish for goal in the 24th minute, while Jonathan O’Neill weighed in with five of his 11 point total.
Hard though they tried after the resumption, the Garden County never got closer than four points. What they really needed was a goal but instead, it was London who pounced via Maher’s nonchalant finish that deceived Joe Murphy in the 49th minute.
O’Neill and Wayne O’Gorman pointed almost immediately to reduce the margin to five once again but Tommy Williams made two outstanding saves, one from O’Neill’s well-struck penalty that bounced wickedly up off the turf. Maher bagged his hat-trick in the fourth minute of injury time after a classy interchange between Finn and Kevin Walsh and that was the cue for the celebrations to begin.
Scorers for London: J Maher 3-4; M Finn 1-5(fs); J Egan 0-4; C Quinn 0-2; P Sloane, K Walsh, T Dunne 0-1 each
Scorers for Wicklow: J O’Neill 0-11(6fs, 1 45); E Glynn 1-1; E Kearns, A O’Brien 0-2 each; W O’Gorman, E Dunne 0-1 each
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 (63); H Vaughan for Smyth (70+2)
WICKLOW: J Murphy; B Cuddihy, G Keogh, J Connors; 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: K Brady (Louth)