London v Kerry - National Hurling League Divisiion 2A29-01-2018

National Hurling League Division 2A

London 1-13

Kerry 2-30

Kerry were facing into the new season back down in Division 2A a place they lasted frequented back in 2015 when a shock play-off win over Antrim got them promoted to Division 1B. Last year losing to Laois in an Extra-Time classic on a score line of 4-20 to 1-30 leaves them back in a rebuilding process in Division 2A. This rebuilding process however is going well with Kerry already earning a scalp in the Munster League against none other than Cork. London on the other hand are at an opposite end to the scale where they were kept afloat in Division 2A last year by score difference. Nonetheless the two teams were to meet in McGovern Park Ruislip and both knew it was to be a real challenge to open their respective league campaigns.

Based on the above information many might have thought that Kerry simply had to enjoy their day out in McGovern Park but this was not to be the case. While they did tack on the first score of the game they conceded a goal just a minute later. Martin Duggan goaled for the London side who started with great energy and were out to prove a point. Shane Nolan settled the Kerry side with a point from a free only for London to force the issue with two points of their own. With 5 mins played the score stood at 1-2 to 2 points in favour of the home team and they were worth the 3-point lead. It took Kerry a further 10 mins to haul the game back to a draw so that the score stood at 1-4 to 7 points after 15mins London giving as good as they got.

 Then came the first piece of magic from Kerry as they strung together a move that had the All-Ireland champions done in Croke Park last September pundits would still be raving about. Starting in defence Kerry worked it short through a series of hand passes in defence before spraying two diagonal balls forward and with the ball not even touching the ground in the whole move it ended up in the back of the London net and London now found themselves 3 down courtesy of the Jordan Conway goal. In all honesty London never really recovered and this 3-point gap was as close as they got to Kerry for the remainder of the game. At half-time the score read 1-10 to 1-15 in favour of Kerry.

Now a tiring London team were playing into a strong wind in the second half and were forced to chase the game against a more experienced side, who with Shane Nolan (0-11) at centre forward, were not to be matched on the day. Kerry struck for another 1-15 in the second half while London could only muster up 3 points in what was a long second half for the Exiles. There were positives however to be taken from the game for London as they enjoyed somewhat of a mini revival midway through the second half when they moved their captain Brian Regan from full back to midfield where he could get more involved and control the game. Another positive being they will not meet as formidable a team in the remaining league games and this was a good learning curve. This was an encouraging performance for London who have plenty to build on leading into next week’s fixture which also takes place in McGovern Park Ruislip against a Meath side who narrowly overcame Kildare in their opening game in the National Hurling League.