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The wonderful 'Vat run ends in London

posted 14 Dec 2014, 03:01 by Tom Duggan
Kilburn Gaels 1-10 Mullinavat 1-8

Mullinavat's quest for an All Ireland title came to an end in cold and uninviting Ruislip  on Saturday. The game Kilkenny intermediate hurling champions were defeated by Kilburn Gaels (London) after  a tense well contested match. Kilburn Gaels led from the 2nd minute and were never headed. Their lead stretched to seven points at the three quarter mark and they had enough resolve to see off a late charge from the Rod Iron men to run out deserving winners.
Mullinavat will have huge regrets. especially with their first half performance as they racked up a total of nine wides. When all the figures were added up at the finish, the misses tally stood out for all the wrong reasons.
  A heavy overnight frost made the Ruislip pitch extremely testing but it was Kilburn Gaels who adapted better to the conditions.Their more direct approach yielded a better dividend and Mullinavat were guilty of over elaborating at times . The long grass and slippery underfoot conditions made it extremely difficult to play skilful hurling and  despite referee Eamonn Hassan's best efforts to keep the game moving the game never flowed .
Kilburn Gales registered on the scoreboard in the 2nd minute when Stephen Lambert pointed from play. He added a second point a minute later. Mullinavat's first score came in the 5th minute when Ian Duggan's sideline ball was grabbed by Jamie Fennelly who put the ball over the bar.
The visitorsbegan to find their feet but their good approach work was not reflected on the scoreboard. They drove three bad wides during  the following  few minutes. Stephen Lambert  punished any indiscretions in the Mullinavat defence with excellent freetaking and he nabbed his third point from a free in the 13th minute. Mullinavat got a much needed point from a John Walsh free after 21 minutes. Liam Fennelly who was Mullinavat's best forward showed great vision to pick out Willie O Dwyer who levelled the game in the 23rd  minute.
Stephen  Lambert converted  a free to restore Kilburn Gaels lead. Back came Mullinavat and Padraic Gahan sent a perfect delivery in to Willie O Dwyer who levelled the game in the 26th minute.
 Kilburn Gaels edged in front just before the break with a point from their danger man Stephen Lambert.
Half time score : Kilburn Gaels 0-5 Mullinavat 0-4
Neither side could get a foothold during the opening minutes of the second half as the strong low winter sun was now shining into the Mullinavat goal. In the  8th minute a  long range shot from Stephen Lambert was dropped by a 'Vat player and Kilburn grabbed a fortuitous goal.
 They seized the initiative and added three unanswered points, one from Keith Killilea and two frees from Stephen Lambert  in the next six minutes to give them a commanding  seven point lead as the match entered the final quarter.
Mullinavat were in trouble but they responded gamely, just as they have done throughout the championship. John Walsh , now operating at wing forward led the comeback.
He foraged deep  inside his own half and set off in determined fashion towards the Kilburn goal.Leaving two defenders in his wake he soloed 50 metres to shoot an inspirational point.
 Mullinavat won a free which was brought forward for dissent and again John Walsh pointed. Kiilburn Gaels responded and when Mark O' Dwyer broke through the Mullinavat defence a goal looked certain but 'Vat keeper James Culleton saved brilliantly.
 Padraic Gahan, who was outstanding at the heart of the Mullinavat defence, found John Walsh with an excellent delivery and John fired over to reduce the gap to four points. in the 53rd minute a long delivery from Brian Phelan was grabbed by Willie O Dwyer and he finished the ball to the net.
 There was now only a single point separating the sides with seven minutes of normal time left. It was all to play for. Kilburn Gaels went on the attack and were awarded a free which Stephen Lambert pointed.
 Back came Mullinavat and Padraic Gahan found Liam Fennelly with a long delivery but Kilburn 'keeper Kris Finnegan made an excellent save. Kilburn were not going to be denied.
 Martin Duggan pointed in the 59th minute to put three points between the sides. Brian Phelan found Willie O Dwyer with a long ball but Willie's rising shot went just over the crossbar. Normal time was up, three minutes of injury time was announced. Was there to be a late winner? Mullinavat went in search of a big score. They forced a free thirty metres out. John Walsh went for broke but his shot was saved.
The Londoners held out for a  deserved victory. Mullinavat's great run had come to an end.
They can look back on an outstanding campaign-undefeated in Kilkenny in league and championship, a first ever Leinster title and a return to the senior ranks in 2015.

Kilburn Gaels: Stephen Lambert (1-8, 0-6 frees), Martin Duggan (0-1), Keith Killilea (0-1).
Mullinavat: Willie O' Dwyer (1-3), John Walsh (0-4, 0-2 frees), Jamie Fennelly (0-1)

Kilburn Gaels: Keith Finnegan, Connor Hickey, Luke Gaule, Christopher McAlinden, Noel Brophy, Brian Regan, Keith Kennedy, Henry Vaughan, Barry Kiely, Martin Duggan, James Egan, Stephen Lambert, Andrew Power, Mark O'Dwyer, Keith Killilea.
Subs: Ozer McMahon Peter Kennedy

Mullinavat James Culleton, Joe Fennelly, Thomas Aylward, Seamus Farrell, Robert Malone, Padraic Gahan, Simon Aylward, Dinny Butler, Ian Duggan, Joe Gahan, Ger Malone, Liam Fennelly, Jamie Fennelly, Willie O'Dwyer, John Walsh.
Subs: Mark Mansfield, Brian Phelan,

Referee:,Eamonn Hassan (Derry)