While Longford Slashers are just one step away from completing the senior championship and league double, their win over Abbeylara in the Leader Cup semi-final on Saturday last came at a heavy price with key players Dermot Brady and Michael Brady set to miss the title decider on Sunday next.
For the first time in his distinguished football career, Slashers captain and centre-half-back Dermot Brady was sent-off after receiving a very harsh straight red card with just 13 minutes gone in the semi-final clash last weekend and more bad news was to follow for the county champions.
Powerful midfielder Michael Brady was forced to retire after sustaining a knee injury in the closing stages of the comfortable eight points success against Abbeylara and it was later revealed to be cruciate damage which will keep him out of action for a considerable length of time.
Having said that, Mullinalaghta were minus the services of two of their most experienced players, Ruairi McElligott and Kevin Mulligan, for their semi-final showdown against a much understrength Killoe Emmet Og side at the Laurels on Sunday last and St. Columba’s looked dead and buried when they trailed by nine points in the early stages of the second half.
But Mullinalaghta then enjoyed a new lease of life in launching a remarkable recovery to eventually come out on top by two points and will be quietly confident of getting the better of Slashers in the Leader Cup Final at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday next, throw-in 1.30pm.
Back in the late 1940s and early 1950s Mullinalaghta were very much the dominant force in the Leader Cup, completing a magnificent five-in-a-row, and the current talented squad will be bidding to bridge a very long gap as the north Longford club last captured the famous old trophy back in 1951.
Slashers, on the other hand, last lifted the coveted Leader Cup back in 1991 (22 years ago)and will be hoping to make amends for the defeats against Killoe in the 2010 and 2012 senior league finals.
Both Mullinalaghta and Slashers have shown great consistency to remain unbeaten throughout the entire Division 1 league campaign this season and when they clashed earlier in the year the game finished in a draw, meaning that they must play-off for this particular title in a couple of weeks time.
But for the moment the focus is on the Leader Cup Final, always considered the next best thing to winning the Senior Championship, and Slashers might just have the edge in what promises to be a close encounter.