Galway broke London’s spirt early en route to an easier than expected victory in Ruislip.
Under Paul Coggins, the Exiles have impressed on home turf in the Championship, beaten by only a point in their 2012 outings by Leitrim and then Antrim before a historic victory over Sligo last season.
The run to the Connacht final last season held further promise for London but last season’s heroics looked a long way off, after Michael Martin hit 1-2 after only six minutes in Ruislip yesterday.
Man of the match Shane Walsh had struck the opener for Galway after only 15 seconds and trailing 0-0 to 1-3, the hill couldn’t have been steeper for the hosts.
The Exiles took to the field with six Galway natives and one of those — former keeper Adrian Faherty — was prominent throughout, shot-stopping, setting up attacks with some clever kick-outs and striking frees when the opportunity came on the cusp of the interval. But it was symbolic of London’s first-half performance that the furthest man from the attack was the most potent.
All the while, Galway pressed, relentlessly. London simply could not cope with a Galway attack led by Danny Cummins, Eddie Hoare, Walsh and Martin.
Former Kildare star James Kavanagh was impressive also — his range of foot-passing a notable feature of that first quarter.
As half-time approached, Galway had kept London scoreless and it appeared as though the Exiles would go in at half-time having failed to hit the target.
When Faherty did convert a free on 34 minutes, it was met with an ironic cheer from the home crowd — the loudest of the afternoon.
Last season’s All Star nominee Lorcan Mulvey made a difference when introduced at the interval but London had nothing but pride to play for at this stage.
Walsh, Martin, Cummins et al just continued to make them fight, all three finishing with goals to their names.
That they arrived with the minimum of fuss made it all feel very pedestrian and tough to swallow for London.
“Of course we were (upbeat), coming into the game,” said Paul Coggins. “We were beaten by a very good team there — that will be shown. They were well up for the game. As has happened over the last few years, I suppose teams are well aware of us now. Maybe we didn’t show the composure we have in the last few weeks. When you don’t take your points early on with a wind, you are always going to be facing and uphill battle.”
But the manager also pointed to a gulf in preparation. “Like I said to these lads, everything isn’t as good for us here as it is for the counties at home. I mean, those guys have had six or seven challenge matches in the last month and I suppose it just shows you what we did last year and that puts the achievement into perspective.
“I think Galway played very well there. They came over, did a job and did it very well. They were a lot more composed than us and they took their scores well — the last goal was a bit of a killer but I think they are a very good team. They are in Division 2 of the National League and people are just going to have to accept they were a better team on the day.”
Scorers for Galway: S Walsh 1-6 (2f, 1 ‘45’), M Martin (1f), D Cummins 1-3 each, E Hoare 0-3, M Lundy, A Varley 0-1 each.
Scorers for London: A Faherty (3f), L Mulvey (2f) 0-3 each, J Feeney 0-1.
Subs for Galway: G Higgins for O Curraoin (47), A Varley for Martin (51), D Comer for Lundy (51), J O’Brien for Flynn (57), C Mulryan for Bradshaw (60), E Concannon for Hoare (68).
Subs for London: L Mulvey for C O’Neill (ht), B Collins for McCarthy (ht), M Miskelly for E O’Neill (47), S Mulligan for Carroll (61), L Colfer for Feeney (62), B Mitchell for Walsh (66).
Referee: F Kelly (Longford)
Galway: M Breathnach; D O’Neill, F Hanley, J Duane; G Bradshaw, G O’Donnell, P Varley; F O Curraoin, T Flynn; M Lundy, S Walsh, J Kavanagh; M Martin, E Hoare, D Cummins. London: A Faherty; P Butler, S Curran, D McCarthy; S Hannon, T Gaughan, M Walsh; M Gottsche, M Carroll; G Crowley, D Dunleavy, C O’Neill; E O’Neill, P Geraghty, J Feeney.