Looking ahead to his third consecutive county senior final, Longford Slashers forward Niall Mulligan admitted that talk of three-in-a-row has to be put aside and the focus needs to be on the game itself.
“There is a lot of talk about the three-in-a-row. You just have to focus on the task at hand. You can’t be distracted,” he told the Leader. “We are concentrating on playing another game and are looking forward to the battle. We are just happy to be there, to be honest. They are never easy games, no matter who you are playing against. It’s all down to the day.”
For the second year in a row Slashers face a neighbouring club in the final and the latest opposition Killoe are appearing in their first senior title decider since 1995. Mulligan knows how special Sunday next will be for the Killoe club. “The Killoe game is going to have the same kind of local rivalry that we had with Clonguish in last year’s final. Killoe are going to be very hungry for success. It’s a huge weekend for their parish and that hunger is something that we are going to have to try and match.”
Mulligan missed the league stage of the championship through injury but has played a big part in helping his side reach the county final since his first appearance in the current campaign against Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s in the quarter-final. He is delighted with the way things have gone for him since his return to action: “Mullinalaghta was a big game for me, just to see where I was at. I needed a couple of games just to freshen up. Thankfully I’ve that under the belt now. I’m happy enough to be going into the final with those games behind me. We are lucky to have the squad that we have as they pulled us through. All of the county lads have had a lot of football this year so I had the fitness.”
Championship final fever has hit the parish of Killoe ahead of the big game but Mulligan admitted that there’s a great atmosphere around the town of Longford for Slashers. He hopes their supporters will come out in big numbers on Sunday: “There’s a great buzz around Killoe but there’s also one around the town for us. We are just hoping to get as many supporters out as we can as it could make a huge difference. We are grateful for the support we have had in the last few years.”
Mulligan is fully aware of the threat Killoe will pose on Sunday. “Killoe have some great players and you cannot overlook them. They are a serious outfit who are up and coming and will be hard stopped. I have a lot of respect for the whole set-up out there. We will have to tread carefully and prepare as best as we can in our bid to win the game.”