It has taken Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s over 60 years to get back into a senior football championship semi-final and Sunday’s game against Clonguish is a huge occasion for the club and the north Longford parish.
Over the last number of years, Mullinalaghta have been making significant progress in the Connolly Cup and after getting a long awaited win in the senior championship at Pearse Park against Granard in the recent quarter-final, manager Gerry Lynn admitted anything is possible for his side now.
“There is always a first time to break that duck. Mullinalaghta have been knocking around for a while and they won the Leader Cup last year. They have a good team and with a bit of luck on their side, play well on the day, then anything is possible. But it’s a big test for us against Clonguish,” he told the Leader.
Lynn knows only too well how hard it is for a club to make the breakthrough at senior championship level but believes that it will happen for Mullinalaghta; it’s all about belief he said.
“I was on the Edgeworthstown team years ago and it took us a while to break through. I have no doubt it will happen at some stage for Mullinalaghta, whether it will be this year or not. f you believe enough, it will happen and you always have to put the hard work in.”
Mullinalaghta have yet to suffer defeat in this year’s championship after winning their three games in the group stage before they faced neighbours Granard in the quarter-final; the round they had failed at in recent years so it was a big win in more ways than one to cross that tricky hurdle.
“We knew it was going to be an extremely tough game. Up until that the current Mullinalaghta squad hadn’t won a senior championship game in the park. It was breaking ground for them. We were happy to get through and a one point win would have done us against Granard.”
There is a good blend of youth and experience in this Mullinalaghta side, something that Lynn is pleased with. “There is a good mix there. You have Shane Mulligan (the captain), then you go to the other spectrum and you have a 17-year-old who is fresh (Jayson Matthews). He just wants to play football. It’s great to have that.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s semi-final Gerry Lynn, like his opposite number Mickey Graham, is expecting a close encounter though he feels his side will be the underdogs.
“Clonguish will be favourites, they have the experience and the players too. They have been around the block a while and they are never far away in the championship. They have the players who are capable of helping them win a championship. Mullinalaghta have to work hard, see where they are at and put the pressure on these Clonguish players. It will show us how far we are away or how close to making the breakthrough.”
Lynn is hoping his side can put in the performance that they are capable of. “Semi-finals are there to be won. No one remembers the losers of a semi-final. It’s all about who performs on the day; 60/65 minutes to get that performance out of your players. We are all striving for it.”