Gary Rogers on the ball for Mullinalaghta St Columba's in this tussle with Clonguish opponent Daniel McHugh. Action from the Senior Football Championship semi-final replay. Photo: Declan Gilmore
After snatching a very fortunate second chance in the drawn encounter, Mullinalaghta stepped up another couple of gears in cruising through to the county senior football final with a comprehensive win over Clonguish at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday evening last.
Mullinalaghta St Columba’s . . . 0-15 Clonguish . . . 0-8
Many felt that the underdogs Clonguish had blown a glorious opportunity after letting victory slip from their grasp the previous week and so it proved to be as St Columba’s experienced little difficulty to come out on top in the disappointing semi-final replay.
Having said that, the absence of Paul Barden (unavailable to feature in the match last weekend due to personal reasons) was a major blow for Clonguish who were also forced to field without injured key defender Ronan Sweeney with Kevin Burke another player on the casualty list.
St Columba’s were in control in virtually every position on the pitch and the Connolly Cup holders were well on the road to another appearance in the title decider at the break, at which stage they had built up a comfortable 0-10 to 0-3 advantage.
Breaking fast from the traps, Mullinalaghta raced into an early lead with cracking points from Conor McElligott (bang on target with less than a minute gone on the clock) and wing back Conan Brady before Clonguish opened their account from a free converted by Joe O’Brien in the 4th minute.
St Columba’s came storming back to fire over five more scores in a row with a brace from Jayson Matthews who smacked the ball over the bar when a goal was there for the taking in the 22nd minute after latching on to the perfect pass from Conor McElligott.
Moments later prominent defender Donal McElligott joined the attack to kick over a fine point under considerable pressure while also on target for the reigning county champions were Rian Brady and James McGivney who landed excellent efforts as a decisive gap was opened up.
There was some respite for struggling Clonguish when Joe O’Brien hit a brilliant inswinging strike over the bar in the 26th minute but there was just no stopping Mullinalaghta who increased their lead with three more scores through John Keegan, Matthews (free) and David McGivney.
Clonguish pulled a point before the break when Joe O’Brien slotted over a close range free and even with the aid of the wind in the second half they failed to put St Columba’s under any serious pressure.
An injury sustained by Paddy Dowd during the first half was another setback and he was eventually withdrawn with a couple of minutes gone on the changeover.
As it turned out Clonguish had to wait until the 51st minute for their first score in the second half, a free converted by Joe O’Brien, and had fallen even further behind at that late stage of the game as Mullinalaghta added three more points to their fairly emphatic tally.
David McGivney shot over the bar immediately on the resumption and centre-half-back Shane Mulligan also got his name on the scoresheet as Joe O’Brien missed a couple of frees for Clonguish that he would normally convert.
Another Jayson Matthews point (free) in the 50th minute left Mullinalaghta leading by 0-13 to 0-3 and they could afford the luxury of kicking around 12 wides during the course of this one-sided encounter.
Impressive corner-forward Matthews was a constant threat as he then kicked a terrific point from play and landed another gem in the 60th minute to bring his personal tally to 0-6.
Clonguish, to their credit, battled it out to the bitter end and were rewarded with four consolation scores - a well struck brace from David Barden with Joe O’Brien (free) and substitute Colin Farrell also on the mark.
MULLINALAGHTA ST COLUMBA’S: Patrick Rogers; Patrick Fox, Donal McElligott (0-1), Simon Cadam; Francis Mulligan, Shane Mulligan (0-1), Conan Brady (0-1); John Keegan (0-1), Ruairi McElligott; Gary Rogers, Rian Brady (0-1), David McGivney (0-2); Jayson Matthews (0-6, two frees), James McGivney (0-1), Conor McElligott (0-1).
Subs:- Aidan McElligott for R McElligott (44 mins); Michael Cunningham for C McElligott (54 mins).
CLONGUISH: Stephen Watters; Benny Devine, Darren Quinn, Anthony Watters; Stephen McLoughlin, Conor Shields, Daniel McHugh; Peter Hanley, Paddy Dowd; Chris Gordon, Shane O’Brien, Stephen Norton; Joe O’Brien (0-5, four frees), David Barden (0-2), Ciaran Williams.
Subs:- David Faughnan for C Gordon (30 mins); Gerry Moore for P Dowd (injured, 32 mins); Neil Devlin for B Devine (34 mins); Colin Farrell (0-1) for S O’Brien (36 mins); Francie Molloy for D McHugh (47 mins); John O’Brien for A Watters (57 mins).
Referee: Gerard Egan (St Mary’s Granard).