By Deniese O’Flaherty
Clonguish manager Mickey Graham believes the difficult route his side had to take to get to the Senior Football Championship semi-final could stand to them when they play Mullinalaghta St. Columba’s at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday next.
After losing against Dromard in the opening round, Clonguish recovered well with wins over the reigning champions Longford Slashers and then Colmcille to qualify from the group stage of the Connolly Cup. In the quarter-final they had just one point to spare over Abbeylara; getting the winning score in stoppage time.
Speaking to the Leader Graham said: “We are delighted with the wins and I think they will stand to us. We have come through the hard way after playing Dromard, Slashers, Colmcille and Abbeylara and we are in good shape going into the semi-final.
“After we played Dromard in the first game in the championship and then got Slashers in the next round, people thought we were probably going to be gone but the boys have worked really hard to keep pulling out the required results.”
Mullinalaghta now stand in Clonguish’s way for a place in the county final. Graham did not get the chance to see St. Columba’s in action against Granard because he didn’t want to look too far ahead. Although he has respect for the Mullinalaghta side, the focus for him is on his team.
“I wasn’t going to go into their quarter-final the evening before our match against Abbeylara and tempt fate. I will sit down and watch the DVD. To be honest we just worry about ourselves, if you start worrying about the opposition sometimes you can over analyse it. We have to get our own house in order and if we can do that, then we are sorted. Obviously there’s one or two things we need to look out for.”
The semi-finalists played out a high scoring draw in the league a few weeks back and thus Graham feels Sunday’s championship clash will be another tight affair. For him it’s all about ‘on the day’.
“Semi-finals are all about on the day. We have a 50/50 chance as Mullinalaghta are going well too. Semi-finals are probably the hardest games to win because you are so close and yet so far. We are under no illusion about the stiff challenge that lies ahead. It’s going to be another tough battle but we are training very hard and that’s all I can ask for.”
Throughout this year’s championship one player has been in exceptional form and that’s Paul Barden. Graham has great praise for his star forward. “I don’t think we will see the likes of Paul around Longford again; hopefully they do. The man should probably had won an All-Star and you will never get a more dedicated player. He comes from Dublin for training and is one of the first out on the pitch. He’s a role model for youngsters and it’s not a coincidence that he is up there at the top of his game still. Paul is unmarkable when he’s in that form and he still hasn’t lost his pace.”