Louth's Bevan Duffy. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
Qualifier first round
London 1-19 - 2-26 Louth
Louth earned only their second qualifier win in nine seasons with an impressive 10-point victory over London at McGovern Park, Ruislip on Sunday afternoon.
Pete McGrath's side wasted little time in stamping their authority almost from the off, never trailing in a game they led by six points at half-time. Corner-forward William Woods top-scored in the outing, registering 0-13 in a virtuoso display.
First-half goals from Ronan Holcroft and Conor Grimes were telling as the Wee County recovered from an early setback when London's Ryan Elliott drilled to the net to level the contest after nine minutes.
The Reds had started much the brighter with Woods (0-4, frees), Tommy Durnin, Declan Byrne and Ciarán Downey - with the first of three fine first-half points - giving an exhibition in score-taking.
London, meanwhile, were reliant on the free-taking excellence of Adrian Moyles to keep in touch, however, with their defence being so porous, the visitors put clear daylight between the teams in the lead-up to the break.
Holcroft's goal - on 18 minutes - stemmed from the move of the match as corner-back James Craven carried half the length of the field before off-loading to the St. Fechin's man who cut inside and buried to the net. Their second major was a lot more straight-forward as Grimes slapped a long, hanging delivery past Gavin McEvoy in the home goal.
Louth turned around 2-12 to 1-9 in front and they bridged that gap with six of the opening eight points of the second half as Woods brought his free-tally to eight along with further efforts from Byrne and Gerard McSorley. The Naomh Fionnbarra man almost opened his account from play too, smashing a shot off the 'bar within seconds of the restart.
The Exiles battled back, however, striking six points unanswered as Moyles entered double figures. With 12 minutes to play, the scoreline read: Louth 2-19 London 1-18.
But just when the home crowd sensed an incredible comeback, the Wee County were handed an opportunity to lodge a clinical blow as a surging run by Downey resulted in the Newtown Blues man being hauled down for a penalty. Woods skied his effort, though, to register his ninth point of the afternoon and while it wasn't his desired outcome, it halted London's momentum.
Grimes added a point in a subsequent move as the goal gaped once more, but the six-point cushion that it provided looked to have put the game beyond Ciarán Deely's charges.
In fairness, the home side never relented in their efforts to remain in the championship. Killian Butler cannoned the post with a powerful effort, however, a hat-trick of points from Woods, added to McSorley's third of the contest, supplemented the advantage further as Louth ensured their place in tomorrow morning's second round draw.
London: Gavin McEvoy; Connor Murphy Ciarán Dunne, Philip Butler; Patrick Begley, Ryan Jones, Martin Carroll; Anthony McDermott, Thomas Waters; David Carrabine, Mark Gottsche (0-1, free), Adrian Moyles (0-10, six frees); Ryan Elliott (1-1), Liam Gavaghan (0-2, frees), Fearghal McMahon (0-3)
Subs: Gerard Byrne for Carroll (16, black card), Michael Walsh for Jones (HT), Conor O'Neill for Butler (40), Liam Irwin (0-1) for McDermott (46), Eoin Murray for Carrabine (49, black card), Killian Butler (0-1) for Murphy (50)
Louth: Neil Gallagher; Darren Marks, Emmet Carolan, James Craven; Derek Maguire, Bevan Duffy, Anthony Williams; Andy McDonnell (0-1), Tommy Durnin (0-1); Ciarán Downey (0-3), Declan Byrne (0-3), Gerard McSorley (0-3); William Woods (0-13, 0-11 frees & 0-1 penalty), Conor Grimes (1-1), Ronan Holcroft (1-1)
Subs: Niall Conlon for Holcroft (53, black card), Tadhg McEnaney for Downey (60), Fergal Donohoe for Marks (66), Eoghan Lafferty for Williams (67), Aaron O'Brien for McSorley (70)
Referee: Pádraig Hughes (Armagh)