Longford Leader columnist, Mattie Fox
Since the inception of the GAA club championships in 1970, a Leinster final place had eluded Longford’s standard bearers.
However, that unwanted distinction was well and truly banished on Sunday last as mould breakers Mullinalaghta sent Éire Óg packing with a 2-15 to 0-3 defeat and sixty minutes now separates the three in-a-row Longford kingpins from the Holy Grail of a provincial title.
Éire Óg had three men sent off while the winners stayed resolutely focused on the end goal.
This puts Mullinalaghta, the North Longford ‘half parish’ into a position no Longford club has ever achieved.
Truly, an incredible mountain to scale.
The result of the match represented a display of indiscipline unseen in any recent game in Longford county.
Éire Óg resorted to crazy tactics when Mullinalaghta began to assert their authority, and as a result the referee had no option but to send three of their players to the line.
It was obvious, though most unrewarding for Éire Óg, that they simply couldn’t understand that Mullinalaghta are such a seriously well coached team, and made the repeated mistake of trying to become physical several times as the game progressed. Aidan McElligott was targeted and was hit many times, eventually once too often, prompting the first dismissal.
One would expect that Éire Óg would be wise enough to know that the referee wasn’t going to take any nonsense, whilst letting the game flow, and that he would take remedial action.
Sure enough, the second half wasn’t very long underway when a second player saw red and was sent to the line.
That reduced Éire Óg to thirteen men. Mullinalaghta were playing a calm, controlled game which could best be described as a masterclass in the fast passing game, both by hand and foot, giving the impression that Éire Óg couldn’t get near them.
Every time a Mullinalaghta man received the ball he immediately off loaded to another colleague well placed to receive the pass, with time to spare, and he too, swiftly switched the play to have the opposition running from one side of the pitch to the other.
A wearying way to be forced to play. Eventually James McGivney shot with great accuracy to the net. The game was probably long over, but that sealed the story.
Mullinalaghta continued to remain focused and tacked on points at their leisure, with Aidan McElligott cleverly punching a high ball which had only the waiting net to enter.
To run out with a score of 2-15, to only 0-3 may have been due in no small way to the Éire Óg lack of discipline.
But from early on, it was obvious that Mullinalaghta were the better prepared, having three years of experience under their belt, not to mention the crafty Mickey Graham who must take plaudits for the style of play, and the team’s calmness under pressure.
Next game will be different.
Will require all of Mullinalaghta’s wiles, craft and accuracy to take home a victory. Longford has been given something to shout about.
Finally, a Leinster club final awaits.
It is the first ever for a Longford club.
What an achievement.