With both sides through to the quarter-finals there was nothing but bragging rights to play for in this North Longford derby. In the end nothing could separate the sides as two late points earned Abbeylara a draw against their neighbours Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s.
It wasn’t played with the same intensity as a derby championship clash but both sides did give it their all in the pursuit of victory at Emmet Park, Killoe on Saturday evening last. There were plenty of yellow cards issued as players didn’t let up with challenges but nothing malicious or serious.
Donie McElligott opened the scoring with a pointed free before Abbeylara took a hold of the game. Conor Berry levelled matters in the second minute and Kieran Mulvihill put them ahead with a free.
Berry was on target from a free in the 9th minute before Abbey goalkeeper Damien O’Connor slotted over a ’45 to give his side a three point lead.
Mullinalaghta got their second point in the 15th minute; Aidan McElligott made a terrific catch in the middle of the park and the move ended with his brother Donie landing a good score.
A fine point from Bernard Crawford restored Abbeylara’s three point lead in the 16th minute but St Columba’s ended the first half with fine points from Aaron Earley and Rian Brady to cut the gap to the minimum going in at the break, 0-5 to 0-4.
Within seconds of the restart, Mullinalaghta were level with Rian Brady getting his second point. Damien O’Connor then fired over another ’45 to regain the lead for Abbeylara but a free from Brady in the 37th minute left the sides all square again.
Kevin Smyth hit over a fantastic long range effort one minute later to edge Abbeylara in front again. In the 44th minute Bernard Crawford had a goal chance but his effort was saved.
A free from Donie McElligott levelled matters again before a fine effort from Patrick Fox put Mullinalaghta ahead and then Aaron Earley hit over his second point approaching the end of the game.
But Abbeylara refused to accept defeat and snatched a draw thanks to stoppage time points from Kieran Mulvihill (free) and Bernard Crawford.
ABBEYLARA: Damien O’Connor (0-2, both ‘45s’); Barry Smyth, Cormac Smyth, Fergal Battrim; Anthony McBrien, Michael McHugh, Colm P Smyth; Arthur O’Connor, Barry McKiernan; Nigel Rabbitte, Kevin Smyth (0-1), Brian Smyth; Kieran Mulvihill (0-2, frees), Conor Berry (0-2, one free), Bernard Crawford (0-2).
Subs:- Mickey O’Connor for A O’Connor (half-time); Cian Brady for C Smyth (39 mins); Eamon Gallagher for B McKiernan (54 mins).
MULLINALAGHTA ST COLUMBA’S: David O’Rourke; James Mooney, Patrick Fox (0-1), Simon Cadam; Conan Brady, Francis Mulligan, Aaron Earley (0-2); Aidan McElligott, John Keegan; Michael Cunningham, Conor McElligott, David Donohoe; Rian Brady (0-3, one free), Ruairi McElligott, Donie McElligott (0-3, two frees).
Subs:- Patrick Rogers for D O’Rourke (injured, 40 mins); James McGivney for D Donohoe (46 mins); Gary Rogers for C McElligott (46 mins).
Referee: Michael O’Brien (Longford Slashers).