Mullinalaghta St Columba’s have brought a feel-good factor to football in the county at the moment with the exciting run in their maiden Leinster Club Senior Championship campaign.
On Sunday next the Longford champions will welcome the Dublin champions St Vincent’s to Glennon Brothers Pearse Park for a much eagerly awaited provincial semi-final clash.
Mullinalaghta manager Mickey Graham admitted it’s not just himself that might find it hard to believe where his side are at and he believes St Vincent’s would have been expecting different opposition at this stage of the club championship.
“They were probably gearing themselves towards St Loman’s but then the picture changes and it’s a Longford team they end up playing. It’s hard to know what way they will look at it but I believe that on any given day no matter what the situation is anything is possible. We love Gaelic Football because it’s all on the day. It is a fairytale story.”
St Columba's are creating quite a name for themselves outside Longford after wins over Stradbally (Laois) and St Loman’s Mullingar. They are enjoying their extended run in Leinster and as Graham revealed his team are under no pressure.
“It’s hard to believe that we are at this stage of the competition after the two wins we are after having. It has been the same story since the county final and we have surprised a lot of people with our performances in Leinster. The lads have been playing with a freedom and no pressure and are really looking forward to the challenge of taking on St Vincent’s. ”
The Leinster campaign may be new to Mullinalaghta but they have players on their panel that have played in big games; Leinster Minor Finals, Leinster U-21 Finals, All-Ireland Schools Finals and this experience has helped them get to where they are now.
Graham said: “They are a young side. People have been saying Mullinalaghta have been knocking on the door for the last number of years but you have to remember those lads were only 17/18 playing senior football. They have matured in the last few years in getting a bit older, wiser and cuter. They are used to winning and that has fed into the older lads as well. The older lads are leading and the younger lads are following. It’s a good mix.”
In the previous games against Stradbally and St Loman’s, Graham set his side out with a certain gameplan to deal with the opposition and he will do the same for Sunday’s game. He’s not just focusing on their key men like Ger Brennan, Diarmuid Connolly and Tómas Quinn but a number of other St Vincent’s players who could come to the fore on Sunday.
“You have to look at their strengths and their key players. We all know their main men but there are other players that you don’t know about that can cause the damage.”
So does Graham believe his side can cause a huge upset? “God, it would be the biggest shock in club football. So many people are interested in this game. Over in Cavan people have been saying they are coming over to watch Mullinalaghta in action against St Vincent’s and that is great to hear.”