By Tony Tighe
Sligo 1-21 London 1-11: The 2018 Football Championship got off to a one-sided start as Sligo cruised to a 10-point victory in Ruislip.
The Yeats County suffered a shock defeat on their last visit to London in 2013 but were never in danger here as they booked a Connacht semi-final date against the winners of next Sunday’s clash between Mayo and Galway.
While London floundered in front of goal, Sligo were ruthless, with Adrian Marren top-scoring with 1-6 as 11 visiting players got on the scoresheet.
London fielded seven English-born players in their starting line-up, including five in the forward line, but it was up front they struggled as some wayward shooting cost them dearly.
The Exiles failed to register a single score from their first seven shots on goal, while Sligo had a 100% return on their first five attempts inside 10 minutes.
That drained London’s confidence and their kick-out strategy malfunctioned, which led to Sligo’s goal on 24 minutes.
Wing-back Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch was upended by Gavin McEvoy inside the area and Marren beat the London goalkeeper from the penalty spot to put Sligo nine points in front.
London produced the move of the game to create a goal for Monaghan native Fearghal McMahon to trail 1-10 to 1-3 at the break, and they also kicked the first three points of the second half.
However, Mark Gottsche was black-carded for an off-the-ball tackle and that killed London's comeback hopes. With their kick-outs again going awry, Sligo’s superior bench exposed London’s tiring defence in the final quarter.
Scorers for Sligo: A Marren 1-6 (1-0pen, 1f), C Henry 0-3, N Murphy, S Carrabine, S Coen 0-2 each, P Hughes, P O’Connor, A Devaney (f), L Gaughan, C Breheny, E McHugh 0-1 each.
Scorers forLondon: L Gavaghan 0-5 (2f), F McMahon 1-1, L Irwin 0-2 (1f), M Gottsche, R Elliott, E Murray 0-1 each.
Sligo: A Devaney; R Donovan, E McHugh, C Harrison; G O’Kelly-Lynch, A McIntyre, N Ewing; K McDonnell, N Murphy; C Henry, P O’Connor, P Hughes; L Gaughan, A Marren, K Cawley.
Subs: C Breheny for O’Connor (45), S Carrabine for Hughes (45), S Coen for Cawley (53), F Cawley for Henry (66), D Cummins for Murphy (70).
London: G McEvoy; P Butler, C Dunne, D Carrabine; M Walsh, M Mangan, P Begley; A McDermott, M Gottsche; A Moyles, L Gavaghan, T Waters; R Elliott, F McMahon, K Butler.
Subs: L Irwin for K Butler (ht), C Murphy for Moyles (ht), M Carroll for Gottsche (39, black card), C O’Neill for Dunne (43, black card), G Byrne for Walsh (53), E Murray for Carrabine (63).
Referee: B Cassidy (Doire).