Longford Slashers made amends for the disappointment of losing the Leader Cup Final when they gained revenge against Mullinalaghta in the play-off for the All County Football League Division 1 title in front a sparse attendance (around 150) at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday last.
The spectators who braved the terrible wet and windy weather for the final fixture of the year were treated to a decent game despite the difficult conditions and it was looking like extra-time with the sides all square before Slashers scored the matchwinning goal in the second minute of stoppage time.
The generally prominent Trevor Clendenning surged forward in releasing the ball to Colin Smith who proceeded to set up his brother Mark and the confident corner-forward made no mistake in shooting to the back of the Mullinalaghta net from close range.
It was no more than Slashers deserved as they were the better team in the second half with the impressive Niall Mulligan giving them a decisive edge at centrefield while the introduction of Dominic Glennon on the changeover made a considerable difference as Denis Connertonâ€™s side completed the senior championship and league double in a very successful season.
Throughout the entire game it must be said that Philip Dobson in the full-forward-line played really well for the county champions, firing over four points from play in proving to be a constant threat, and Slashers thus ended the Division 1 league campaign unbeaten which was a great achievement.
St. Columbaâ€™s, of course, had not lost a league game in 2013 prior to the play-off which was required to determine the destination of the Johnny Skelly Cup after the clubs had finished deadlocked on the same number of points at the top of the table.
Despite this defeat the Mullinalaghta club deserve a lot of credit for winning the Leader Cup this year as they continue to make significant progress and at one stage looked like they might win another title after the impressive Rian Brady fired home a cracking goal in the 49th minute.
That left St. Columbaâ€™s leading by the minimum of margins, 1-6 to 0-8, but Slashers hit back immediately with a well struck Colin Smith point from play and went back in front when Niall Mulligan landed a terrific long range free in the 57th minute.
But back came Mullinalaghta with a great point from Rian Brady to level matters in the final minute of normal time, only for Mark Smith to snatch the winning goal and clinch another title for this exceptional Slashers side.
Both teams were short a few regulars for the Division 1 title decider and St. Columbaâ€™s had a very lucky escape in the opening minute when Mark Smith squandered a clear-cut chance of a goal for Slashers.
Mullinalaghta gradually settled down to establish a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 18 minutes with their points coming from Gary Rogers, Rian Brady and JJ Matthews (2) while Philip Dobson got the solitary Slashers score before they eventually got their act together in the closing stages of the first half.
Points from Niall Mulligan (â€˜45â€™), Colin Smith (free) and Philip Dobson left it level before John Keegan shot over the bar in the 27th minute to put St. Columbaâ€™s in a slender 0-5 to 0-4 lead at the break.
But Slashers got on top for most of the second half and two more points from Philip Dobson, along with a free converted by the accurate Colin Smith, changed the course of the game and it could have been even better for the sky-blues as Martin Tarmey missed a great chance of a goal in the 37th minute.
With Slashers now leading by 0-7 to 0-5, Mullinalaghta eventually got their first score of the second half when Shane Mulligan (now operating further outfield after starting in the full-back-line) shot a fine point in the 46th minute.
Back came Slashers with a point from a Colin Smith free and despite conceding a goal sixty seconds later, the county champions were in no mood to let the Division 1 league title slip from their grasp and managed to come out on top in the finish thanks to that dramatic last gasp goal from Mark Smith.
LONGFORD SLASHERS: Colm Farrell; Sean Flynn, Barry Gilleran, Gareth Ghee; Peter Brady, Dermot Brady, Marc Diffley; Niall Mulligan (0-2, â€˜45â€™ and free), David Sheridan; Brian Walsh, Colin Smith (0-4, three frees), Trevor Clendenning; Mark Smith (1-0), Philip Dobson (0-4), Martin Tarmey.
Subs:- Dominic Glennon for B Walsh (half-time); Brian Farrell for D Sheridan (injured, 55 mins); Darren Flaherty for M Tarmey (63 mins).
MULLINALAGHTA ST. COLUMBAâ€™S: David Oâ€™Rourke; Donal McElligott, Thomas McCabe, Shane Mulligan (0-1); James McGivney, Conan Brady, Francis Mulligan; David McGivney, John Keegan (0-1); Gary Rogers (0-1), Rian Brady (1-2), JJ Matthews (0-2); Aaron Earley, Aidan McElligott, Simon Cadam.
Sub:- Eric Sullivan for S Cadam (45 mins).
Referee: Ger Carberry (Killoe Emmet Og).