Cian Mimnagh was the saviour on Sunday last as Dromard staved off any lingering relegation fears in the Senior Football Championship with a hard fought win over Mullinalaghta at Emmet Park in Killoe.
Longford Senior Football Championship: Dromard 1-12, St. Columba’s, Mullinalaghta 0-14
The lively forward struck the game’s decisive score three minutes into added time to preserve Dromard’s senior status for another year whilst at the same time sending Mullinalaghta into a do or die relegation decider with Carrickedmond.
Having endured a torrid past couple of weeks with defeats to Colmcille and then Ballymahon, Sean Hagan’s side went into last Sunday’s relegation play-off out of form and desperately short on confidence.
Knowing a victory was all that was needed to banish those memories and the despondency of critics and supporters alike, last season’s Connolly Cup finalists made a bright start with scores from John Sheridan and David Pettit inside the first 11 minutes.
That early platform was given a welcome shot in the arm just a minute later when centre-half-forward Diarmuid Masterson raced on to a perfectly placed Jamsie Martin pass to smash a shot past a diving Patrick Rogers in the Mullinalaghta goal.
Martin then turned executioner soon after thanks to a sweetly struck effort on the turn from all of 40 yards as Dromard edged into a four point lead after 20 minutes.
But Mullinalaghta soon showed their mettle with four quick fire points from Donal McElligott (2), James McGivney and Shane Mulligan drawing them level just before the break.
Mulligan, who was operating in a more unorthodox full-forward role, struck again moments later before Diarmuid Masterson replied to leave the sides locked at 1-5 to 0-8 at the interval.
The tight and at times frenetic nature of the game continued during the early stages of the second half as Mullinalaghta nosed ahead by the slenderest of margins courtesy of another Shane Mulligan solo effort.
And while the Mullinalaghta senior county star was doing the business in attack, at the other end Patrick Rogers was doing his level best to keep Dromard at bay as he tipped a Jamsie Martin shot around the post 10 minutes after half-time.
In a bid to galvanise their attack, the Dromard mentors brought on Ronan McEntire and Declan Mimnagh. As those changes took time to bed in, Dromard and Hagan rolled their final and potentially most significant dice as star attacker Francis McGee entered the fray with 15 minutes left.
With McGee on, the burden of expectation was still very much placed on the shoulders of Jamsie Martin and Cian Mimnagh. Martin put his side ahead with 12 minutes left before Donal McElligott levelled matters for the umpteenth time to leave the score at 1-9 to 0-12 points with ten minutes remaining.
Donal McElligott and Ronan McEntire then swapped scores, just before Peter Masterson struck as the game entered its final and most decisive period.
In keeping with the see-saw nature of the contest, McElligott restored parity with his fifth and most important free two minutes from time to leave both sets of supporters staring at the prospect of another 20 nervy minutes of extra-time.
But just as that scenario looked ever more likely, up stepped a nerveless Cian Mimnagh deep into injury time to send Dromard fans into ecstasy and Mullinalaghta into a relegation scrap with Carrickedmond.
DROMARD: Damien Sheridan; Cathal Conefrey, Niall Vance, Peter Reynolds; Peadar Faughnan, Paul McGee, Conor Duffy; James Mimnagh, John Sheridan (0-1); Peter Masterson (0-1), Diarmuid Masterson (1-1), David Pettit (0-1); Jamsie Martin (0-3, one free), Donie Conefrey, Cian Mimnagh (0-4, two frees, one 45’).
Subs:- Emmet Masterson for J Mimnagh (30 mins); Ronan McEntire (0-1) for D Pettit (41 mins); Declan Mimnagh for D Conefrey (41 mins); Francis McGee for E Masterson (46 mins); Padraig Martin for C Duffy (64 mins).
MULLINALAGHTA: Patrick Rogers; Patrick Fox, Thomas McCabe, Seamus Corcoran; Conan Brady, James McGivney (0-1), Francis Mulligan; Ruairi McElligott, John Keegan (0-1); Bernard Donohue (0-1), Donal McElligott (0-6, five frees), Conor McElligott (0-1); Gary Rogers (0-1), Shane Mulligan (0-3), Dermot McCabe.
Subs:- Simon Cadam for D McCabe (49 mins); Kevin Mulligan for S Cadam (55 mins).
Referee: Aidan Dowler