Cricklewood was Carrick
Cricklewood, Broadway was more like Carrick on Shannon last weekend. There was even a Hen Party!
As you crossed the street from the Crown Moran Hotel to McGovern’s Pub, it was impossible not to meet someone from Leitrim, it was just as if there was a big match in Páirc Seán and you were caught up in an army of green and gold jerseys. London was awash with Union Jacks for the Queen’s Jubilee, but in Cricklewood it was the Leitrim colours that took centre stage.
People from every corner of the county had descended on London and were all as one; nothing mattered but coming home with a win. There was an enthusiastic Céad Míle Fáilte for the players, team management and County Board officials on their arrival on Saturday evening and they were left in no doubt but that Leitrim had full confidence that they could do the business, despite the fact that Paddy Power and many forecasters had predicted a win for the team that had dragged Mayo into extra time last year. Joe Dolan of The Bush Hotel, the team sponsors, had made the journey in support also, he couldn’t bear to miss it.
Saturday was a late night for the Leitrim followers. The hundreds who had travelled from practically every club from Bornacoola to Melvin Gaels mingled and chatted and met up with long time and recent emigrants and all the talk was about Leitrim. There wasn’t a word about the recession, this was a weekend to forget about the doom and gloom.
The incessant rain of Saturday night continued all day Sunday. Some were suggesting that Queen Elizabeth might arrive in Ruislip – the Jubilee flotilla could nearly have sailed down the streets of London and on to the GAA grounds. She didn’t turn up, but all of Leitrim did, including the Chairman of Leitrim County Council John McTiernan, and were met by Chairman Michael Curry and members of the Leitrim Association and by others from different parts of England.
Willie Donnellan was more than busy lining up pictures for The Leitrim Observer and for posterity. Charity work was not forgotten either, as Tony McGovern and his fund-raising committee were raffling a Vintage Tractor for the homeless and needy of the Irish community in London.
Eyes were focussed on the big screens in the clubhouse in the build-up to the game and every Longford score was cheered to the rafters as they battled it out with Wexford in Croke Park. But then it was time to grab the wet gear and out to the sidelines as the teams were welcomed on to the field in incessant rain. John Connolly was wondering how he could keep his notebook dry to record the action, while John Lynch from Shannonside and PJ Leddy from Ocean FM fought against the elements to transmit every kick of the ball to listeners back home, it was no easy task.
On the field it certainly wasn’t easy, as London put up the expected almighty challenge, boosted by a late first half goal. Nerves were tingly during the break and even more so after a quick point by the home sides to put them four points up. But Leitrim had prepared well, they had done the work, physically and mentally. The players never panicked. We must salute them for that – every one of the fifteen and those who were called from the bench, and indeed, every single panel member who would have been prepared to do likewise.
A special word of praise is due to Joint Team Managers Brian Breen and George Dugdale who played no small part in the victory by their shrewd and timely use of their team bench. The back-up management team had been working and planning hard too for the big game, well done to you all.
A one point win did the job, no one cared what the margin was. Both teams were clapped off the field and then the Leitrim celebrations started in earnest, with many heading for Fergus O’Brien’s on Holloway Road and eventually back to McGovern’s and the Crown Moran, where Cricklewood looked even more like Carrick.
The talk now was of Mayo and Castlebar. Sure Paddy Power could get it wrong again.
05-Jun-12 by Colette Fox – PRO