O'DEA'S MEN READY FOR ULSTER BATTLE
By John Collins (The Irish World) - 25/11/04
" Robert Emmett's take a huge step in to the unknown at Ruislip on Sunday when they take on Carey Faugh's in the All-Ireland Intermediate Club quarter final.
The decision earlier this year by Croke Park to re-grade London hurling to Intermediate status has provided a great opportunity for a London club to make a massive impression on a national competition and certainly Emmett's are doing all they can to try and make sure that it is them who grasp that opportunity.
Key to the whole emergence of the Emmett's as a force has been the return to the club of current manager, Mick O'Dea, who first arrived in London back in 1984 but, after a shortn stint at home in Cork at the start of this decade, decided to return once more to London in 2002.
Upon his return the Emmett's approached him about becoming manager and their former stalwart jumped at the opportunity and since then he has no regrets.
With preparations for the game against Carey Faugh's well under way, O'Dea is delighted to have finally landed the senior crown and even happier with the approach of his players to the task at hand and the way they have applied themselves in training.
"Things have been magnificent, absolutely magnificent since the final. It is what we set out for three years ago when I took over and for it all to come together was great. We have been flying at training since, with 19 or 20 out two nights a week plus either Saturday or Sunday mornings and we can't wait to play " he told me last weekend.
Having reached the final of the London Championship in 2002 only to lose to Sean Treacy's and then to completely under-perform last year and fail to make the semi-finals, what has been the catalyst for the turn around in how things have gone this year for the Emmett's ?
" I thought we had some fantastic players last year but, for whatever reason, it didn't go for us. We had some great individuals but as a unit we just didn't seem to gel at all " he went on.
" We ended up getting atotal of eight players this year and they made a big difference with two of them being especially important. John McGaugahn came in from Cushendun and has given us a consistent free-taker, which is something we haven't had in a long time, and then Teu O'hAilpin also came in who on his day is unstoppable ".
But this Emmett's team is far more than just a couple of talented individuals though ?
" Absolutely, we are lucky we have no passengers and we also have some good players in reserve. Players like Phil Campbell, Ciaran McGaughey and mark Kearney all came to us from the old Brian Boru's club. Campbell isn't the most stylish of hurlers and is under-rated by many but he does his job. He mightn't catch everything but he will stop his man catching it. Our full back too, Gavin O'Mahoney, is also a completely under-rated player. "
" The potential of Fergus McMahon has yet to be seen in London. Going to America didn't help as he missed so much and he has only had two games for us, the semi and the final, and then of course there is Brian Foley. The man has all the attributes of a well honed athlete, is a fantastic hurler and he seems to really enjoy his hurling ".
So what about their opponents on Sunday, Carey Faugh's ? They have won the inaugural Ulster Intermediate Club Hurling crown - their first Provincial crown since 1906 - by beating Eoghan Rua of Derry 0-7 to 0-6. However, what is significant is that they weren't Antrim Intermediate champions having been beaten by Cushendall reserves in the championship. With club's second teams not being allowed to progress, Carey Faugh's were given the chance to represent their county in the Provincial tournament.
With several very young players in their ranks, including tow of the Antrim minor team who won the Ulster Championship this year, Cathal McAuley and Martin Butler, as well as a number of other relatively inexperienced players like Colum McBride, Sean McLaughlin and Fintan McCarry, the Antim team will not be lacking in energy.
Alongside them there are a number of older campaigners like Martin McAuley, Joe Butler, John McVeigh and Mick hegarty all of who add that vital ingredient of experience to the Faugh's pack.
Does O'Dea have any concerns about his player's ability to handle the big game situation ?
" Not at all. We have people like Colum Buckley, Teu O'hAilpin and Fergus McMahon who have all played county hurling and then players like Foley who have played top class club football and probably at a higher level than most of the Antrim players. Two of our lads, John McGaughan and Dan Murphy are from Cushendun in Antrim and played agaisnt Carey Faugh's last year in the senior league and Cushendun beat them comfortably and they think we have a fantastic chance ".
So all in all O'Dea feels that his team are in with more than a puncher's chance in this game.
" We have a fantastic chance " he said. " If we do fail it won't be because of our training or attitude. It is hard to win a county title, but to get to a whisker of an All-Ireland semi-final is massive. We will be doing our best. "
ROBERT EMMETT'S - COUNTY CHAMPIONS 2004
LONDON SENIOR HURLING FINAL 2004
"EMMETT'S CROWNED NEW CHAMPIONS " by John Collins (The Irish World) - Friday 29th October '04 edition
"Robert Emmett's captured their first ever London Senior Hurling crown on Sunday last with a magnificent second half performance against a Fr Murphy's team that offered very little by the way of resistance to the challenge for their crown.
The Emmett's, bridesmaids twice in their history but never even close to catching the bouquet, were far too good for a Murphy's team that disappointed. As the team that has won three of the last four titles, one would have expected a far more organised and indeed talented challenge from the Wexfordmen, but all that we got was a performance that produced just one point from the full-forward line and relied far too heavily on the free-taking of Simon Byrne.
Emmett's on the other hand were close to being the complete package, once they started to play that is, and their showing in the second half was far too purposeful for the Murphy's to be able to counter.
The match itself started with the Murphy's playing with the aid of a strong breeze and with that advantage came a pressure to capitalise and produce a big return. Within forty seconds of the start of the match Eric Kinlon, playing in his third game of the weekend having played for the St Claret's in their two fixtures, got his team off to the perfect start with a fine point.
Moments later Mick Gordon hit a mammoth point from fully seventy metres out on the wing to double the Murphy's lead and then Eoin Rocks, making his first start for Jim Howlin's team in quite some time, pointed to put them three points ahead. Things were not looking good for the eventual winners and were made worse when Simon Byrne stroked over the first of his four points of the afternoon with just eight minutes on the clock.
In this time the Emmett's had managed just two wides and a number of their key personnel were just standing and watching the game pass them by. When at last they got a genuine chance to get a score on the board, the usually immaculate John McGaughan missed with a free, although in fairness to the full-forward he more than made up for it during the rest of the game with a personal return of 0-7 for the hour.
Murphy's at this point were developing a disturbing trend of missing good scoring chances and the wide accumulator was threatening to go into overdrive as the first half minutes ticked away. Further to that was the dreadful display from the full-forward line who wasted ball after ball that was played into them allowing the Emmett's full back line to completely dominate them.
With sixteen minutes showing on the clock, the Emmett's at last settled their very obvious nerves and McGaughan found his range from a free. As if by way of knocking them back in their tracks and reminding the pretenders exactly who was still king of the London hurling castle, Simon Byrne hit over a massive point from the halfway line to restore his team's four point advantage; however wides from Matt Hughes and Patrick Lynch prevented that four becoimng six.
Following a foul on Teu O'hAilpin, who was at this stage of the proceedings completely anonymous, McGaughan pointed again and he then added another from play before there followed an exchange of wides from distance between the two principal scorers from both sides.
With the scores standing at 5-3 and just seconds remaining in the first half, the Murphy's must have been feeling that they had wasted a glorious chance to plant huge seeds of doubt in the Emmett's minds, given that they had got off to the perfect start and also that they had been playing with the advantage of a stiff breeze for the first half hour. That frustration must have been magnified further when Kieran McGaughey pointed for the Emmett's to leave the minimum between the teams at the break.
Small changes were made to the Murphy's at the interval with Scott Doran moving moving out to wing forward in a switch with Matt Hughes but ultimately it was a move that made little difference to proceedings.
That's not to say though that the Murphy's laid down and died in the seconnd half and indeed it was they who got the scoring started in that period with a point from a free by Byrne.
However Emmett's were determined to make the most of the wind that their opponents had so neglected in the first half and quickly McGaughan was enjoying the benefits of that breeze. Two points, both from frees, were knocked over to level the score before Byrne restored the outgoing champions' advantage with a free of his own following a foul on Nick Lalor by Dan Murphy.
All the time though the Emmett's were looking the better team and the Murphy's appeared to be haemorrhaging confidence and later that loss of belief turned into scores against. Colum Buckley pointed from out on the wing for the Emmett's to level again and then for the first time in the game the men in blue and gold went ahead thanks to another McGaughan pointed free.
Teu O'hAilpin burst into life with a point following a great run of fully forty metres down the line, proving that when the Corkman puts his mind to playing ball there are few in London capabale of matching him.
His opposite number Nick Lalor quickly pulled one back for the Murphy's, but the whole idea of playing catch-up did not appear too comfortably with the 2003 champions. That score came with fifteen minutes still remaining and was to prove to be the Murphy's last of the contest. What followed was a period of clinical execution from the Emmett's, as they tucked over five unanswered scores to leave the Murphy's hopefully bateering for goals in the dying minutes as they tried to salvage something for what was a dire all round performance.
The Emmett's full-forward line each contributed a point in that spell with Gary Fenton, McGaughey and Buckley all at last finding their range. McGuaghan pointed once more to bring his tally to that magnificent seven before Fenton scored again to leave six impressive points between the sides at the final whistle.
In so many competitions thsi year defences have been the rock upon which victories have been built and, on this occasion, the Emmett's were to use the same material for their foundations.
'Keeper Mark Kearney was only called into action twice in the game and he dealt comfortably with both incidents. More importantly though was the strength of his puck-out against the breeze and it helped prevent the Murphy's from getting a real stranglehold on the game early on.
The full-back line of Dan Murphy, Gavin O'Mahony and Richie Grimes were quite brilliant throughout by first denying the Murphy's full-forward line the ball to do anything with and then defending brilliantly to stop their opponents from sneaking a goal late on.
Centre-field was probably "even-stevens" in many respects, although late on the Emmett's duo of Pat Jordan and Billy Hennebry made life very difficult for Paddy Culhane especially and stopped him gathering any momentum. Up front McGaughan was deadly accurate with his freetaking although it must be said that both Teu O'hAilpin and Fergus McMahon had quiet games while in the full forward line all three of the inside men came up with big scores when their side needed them.
For the Murphy's it was definitely a day to forget with far too many holes appearing their team work. Noel Martin was the pick of the full-back line while Mick Gordon was the only one to stand out in the half-back line. Simon Byrne tried hard to get his charges to operate in a gear above first but by failing himself from frees it was always going to be difficult to inspire those around him.
In attack the Murphy's were dead. Eric Kinlon had a good first half but the toils of his weekend went against him in a major way in the second with his legs unable to offer any more. Aside from him the remainder were a huge disappointment. The full-forward line lacked any industry or creativity and gave up all too easily while the constantly rotating combination of full-forward Darren Howlin and centre-half Nick Lalor didn't create amy challenges for the Emmett's defence.
This time around the EMMETT'S ARE CHAMPIONS and worthy of it. Some might feel that it is a year later than it should have been but, at the same time, they are Champions now and that's all that will matter to them. "
ROBERT EMMETT'S: M Kearney;
COUNTY HURLING FINAL PREVIEW
21 October 2004
"Fr Murphy's attempt to win back-to-back London Senior Hurling Championships on Sunday next, when they take on Robert Emmett's in the final of the competition at Ruislip at 3pm.
Throughout this decade, Fr Murphy's have been the dominant force in the London hurling scene, while the Emmett's have mustered just the one final appearance when they lost 1-11 to 0-5 to Sean Treacy's in the 2002 decider.
Many expected the Emmett's to build on that final appearance in 2003, but despite a fine collection of players last year they disappointed enormously anf failed to make the semi-finals.
Fr Murphy's meanwhile put behind them the frustrations of not making it an historic three-in-a-row in 2002 and went on to win the Championship against St Gabriels.
Come 2004, then, and the attention was firmly fixed on how these two teams would cater with the fall out of their respective 2003 campaigns. Questions were definitely being asked of the Murphy's in the opening game of the group they lost 2-10 to 0-7 to a re-juvenated Thomas McCurtain's while Emmett's appeared to be threatening to offer up more of the same as they did last year when they fell to Kilburn Gael's in the second-round, following their opening game win over an outclassed Granuaile.
However once those blips were set aside, the two teams settled into a stride and went through the mid-part of the season unbeaten in the Championship, albeit with the Murphy's having to replay an abandoned game against Kilburn Gaels.
By the final stage of the group stage, neither team had any particular concerns over their semi-final safety and when they faced each other Emmett's won 4-9 to 1-14 in a game that bore little consequences, bar those vital bragging rights.
Come semi-final day, the two teams started getting serious about their business again and Murphy's certainly put down their marker with a comprehensive 14 point win over Kilburn Gaels.
Emmett's also produced a competent display to remove St Gabriel's from the Championship equation with a five point winning margin.
Key to the whole equation for Fr Murphy's this year has been the form of the Lalor brothers, with Tom and Nicholas both holding down vital pivotal roles at centre-back and centre-forward.
Team captain Simon Byrne has had an excellent season particularly from frees while his midfield partner Paddy Culhane has overcome the loss of his Limerick club mate James Carmody and continued to build on his growing reputation.
Last year's skipper Eric Kinlon has displayed a tremendous work ethic and will to win, while in defence Rory Devlin has returned to his traditional resting place at full-back and 'keeper Enda Roche has delivered a number of impressive performances between the sticks.
Noel Martin, definitely an unsung hero of the 2003 campaign, has continued in his no nonsense way and carried out the duties of both a wing-back and corner-back with the minimum of fuss.
As far as the Emmett's are concerned, it would probably be fair to say that they appear, on paper at least, to have the most gifted bunch of players in the county. However the same could be said of them last year when they failed so miserably, so few if nay of their supporters will be counting any chicken just yet.
Fergus McMahon is generally considered to be the most complete hurler in London at present. However the absense of the Meath man during the summer meant that followers of the game have been unable to fully appreciate his skills. However his display against St Gabriel's was immense to say the least and the Emmett's will be hoping for more of the same from the dual player on Sunday.
However the Emmett's are by no means a one man team.
The full-back line of Chris McGovern, Gavin O'Mahoney and Dan Murphy has a great blend of experience and quality and will be awake to any of the ploys that the Murphy's may hatch, while centre-back Bryan Foley has had an excellent year so far, although some may have concerns over his marking abilities.
However whatever frailities are felt to exist with Foley's style of play, are more than compenstaed for by the nature of Phil Campbell's play on the wing and certainly the Antrim man is not one for asking too many questions.
Up front is where the class really shows for the Emmett's. In Teu O'hAilpin they have a centre-half forward who - when he applies himself at least - has the ability to win games singlehandedly. However O'hAilpin has a tendency to drift in and out of games, but the one thing for sure is that in the short spells when he does perform to the best of his ability, then he will give any opponent a run for his money.
John McGaughran and Kieran McGaughey make up the half-forward line and John, in particular, had an outstanding semi-final and no doubt the Murphy's will be wary of conceding too many frees within scoring range.
The final line of attack, like the last line of defence, is full of both class and experience and Colum Buckley and Gary Fenton especially are worth keep an eye on as they both have an eye for goal as they proved in the semi-final. Come the cut and thrust of a final then one thing is for sure - goals will be of a premium !
BIG MATCH VERDICT ? !
On the strength of their overall performances Robert Emmett's deserve to be favourites in that - with the exception of a blip against Kilburn early on - they appear to be a team with a Championship very much on the agenda.
In previous years Fr Murphy's have showed that they are very good at getting it right on the night but in this instance, I feel that the Emmett's hold an upper hand in that they have a better all-round team - VERDICT : ROBERT EMMETT'S.
PLAYER HEAD TO HEADS
ENDA ROCHE(Fr Murphy's) v MARK KEARNEY (Robert Emmett's).
GAVIN O'MAHONEY (Emmett's) v DARREN HOWLIN (Murphy's)
PHIL CAMPBELL (Emmett's) v ERIC KINLON (Murphy's)
FERGUS McMAHON (Emmett's) v SIMON BYRNE (Murphy's)
TEU O'hAILPIN (Emmett's) v TOM LALOR (Murphy's)
JOHN McGAUGHRAN (Emmett's) v MICK GORDON (Murphy's)
HURLERS THROUGH TO COUNTY FINAL
11 October 2004
" EMMETT'S BATTLE THEIR WAY TO FINAL " by John Collins.
(Reproduced courtesy of The Irish World).
" Robert Emmett's put the disappointments of 2003 firmly behind them on Sunday as they crept past St Gabriel's to secure their second final appearance in three years.
In a game that was destroyed by the sharp breeze that blew directly up the field from the bottom goals, Emmett's held a decisive advantage at the interval, despite having hurled against the wind for the opening period.
Once the second half came, most expected the Emmett's to run away with the fixture, but to the credit of the Gabriel's they held out and made their rivals battle for victory.
Chief architect for this Emmett's win was wing-forward and free taker John McGaughran who bagged 0-7 for his afternoon and this after recieving a hefty blow to the head early in the first half. Wearing the prefered headgear of the wounded hero - the big white bandage - McGaughran ensured that his team always had that little bit of an advantage over their opponents and he steered them home by five points.
Early on the pressure was very much on the Gabriel's to make an impression on the game. With the wind on the backs, talk of a required seven or eight point half time advantage wasn't too far from the mark.
Midfielder Gerard Gary got them up and running with a point in the opening exchanges, but McGaughran quickly cancelled that out.
Gary came back again with another point three minutes later before Mick O'Meara added a further point for the Gabriel's and then James McDonnell got a crucial goal for them when he struck a low shot past Mark Kearney in the Emmett's goal from twenty metres.
Quarter of the game gone and Gabriel's were five points up, a similar return in the second quarter was what was required to give them a hope of stealing into the semi-final.
However the Emmett's had other plans for the day and shortly after that McDonnell goal they bagged one of their own when Colum Buckley was first to react to a Gary Fenton shot that came back off the upright and he slotted past Dara Brien in the Gabriel's net.
Thomas Moroney eased the pain of that three-pointer against his team with a point in immediate reply, but that was quickly equalled and then bettred by two points from that man McGaughran.
With just a point in it approaching the break the Emmett's landed the most crucial score of the game when Gary Fenton registered his team's second goal after Richie Grimes initial effort had been saved by Brien.
half time and the Emmett's were 2-3 to 1-4 ahead and still had half an hour of hurling with the wind at their backs to look forward to.
The danger though with wind assisted play is that players often lose touch with the limitations of their skills and the belief that by merely hoisting a ball into the air quarantees scores is dangerous to say the least.
Over ten minutes of play had passed in the second half before Emmett's managed to convince us that they could play as well with the wind at their backs as they had with the wind facing them.
McGaughran was again the scorer and he repeated the feat seconds later from forty yards having picked up the under-hit puck-out from Brien.
Safety appeared to be in sight for the Antrim man and his team until Mick O'Meara blasted a goal from a twenty metre free for the Gabriel's to reduce the deficit to just a point.
Panic time for the favourites or merely a wake up call ?
Teu O'hAilpin was the first to stand up for this team with a great point on the run and then McGaughran with two and Richie Grimes with a point finished things off for the Emmett's to secure a five point winning margin.
Not a performance to inspire people to run out and put huge amounts of cash on their potential to be champions, but nonetheless a performance that saw them through to the senior final for the second time in three years and at the semi-final stage that is the only kind of performance that really matters.
Undoubtedly McGaughran was the key man for them and any player that returns 0-7 in a semi deserves a mention. However it was by no means a one man show and given that the Emmett's went in at half time up, despite playing into the wind, bears testimony to a job well done by the defence with Mark Kearney, Chris McGovern and Phil Campbell all having excellent games.
Fergus McMahon was a real class cat at centre-field and was ably assisted by Pat Jordan while in attack on top of McGaughran there were strong displays from Teu O'hAilpin and also the imposing target figure of Gary Fenton.
St Gabriel's were handicapped from the start by the loss of Pat Finneran and Brendan Bolger but never looked like a side capable of winning this game.
That half time deficit must have been hard to take at the break and really it was difficult to see a way back for them in the second half.
Enda Duane, Ollie Connell and Melvin Loughnane all played well in the backs, while Michael O'Meara and Liam Hoyne were effective up front.
Emmett's will be looking forward to the prospect of taking on the Murphy's and certainly the tag they have carried all year as dark horses for the crown will sit easy on them.
They have a quality outfit, full of capable players... it just remains to be seen if they have the big day temperament. "
Scorers : Emmett's ; J McGaughran 0-7, C Buckley 1-0, G Fenton 1-0, T O'hAilpin 0-1, R Grimes 0-1.
St Gabriel's ; M O'Meara 1-1, J McDonnell 1-0, G Gary 0-2, T Moroney 0-1.
HURLERS CONTINUE WINNING FORM IN CHAMPIONSHIP
27 September 2004
Our Hurlers are on course for Championship glory following their 4-09 to 1-14 victory over Fr Murphy's in their final group match at Ruislip on Saturday last.
Having only suffered one defeat against Kilburn Gaels in the group stages this latest victory means that they go into their forthcoming semi-final on form and in a confident frame of mind.
Congratulations to all the squad and mentors and, though it's imperative no chickens are counted before they've hatched, we club members hope that this is finally the year that the London Senior Championship is "coming home"!
HURLERS TOOK PART IN ALL-IRELAND SEVENS
13 September 2004
Well done to our Hurlers who took part in the prestigious All-Ireland Club sevens at Kilmacud Crokes in Dublin on Saturday last.
Though pitted in a tough group which included Mullinahone of Tipperary they acquitted themselves well throughout the afternoon.
The tournament was eventaully won by Portumna of Galway who defeated Mullinahone in the final.
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