Many sacrifices made in the Mullinalaghta success story

AIB All-Ireland Club SFC Semi-Final at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Saturday, 3.30pm

Deniese O'Flaherty

Reporter:

Deniese O'Flaherty

Email:

newsroom@longfordleader.ie

Leinster Club Senior Football Championship

John Keegan on the ball for Mullinalaghta St Columba's against Kilmacud Crokes. Action from the Leinster Club SFC Final. Photo: Declan Gilmore

When John Keegan won his first Longford Senior Football Championship with Mullinalaghta in 2016 he cherished every moment. He finally had that elusive winners medal and was happy with his lot.

John never imagined that he would win two more county championships with St Columba’s, a Leinster club title and be preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final against the Kerry kings Dr Crokes. 

Keegan said: “It’s hard to believe. People have said to me “I suppose it’s a childhood dream John.”

“I can’t even claim that because all we ever wanted was to win a county championship. I would have retired happily with one and now I have three medals.

“It’s a great position to be in and enjoy it while it lasts. It is the toughest because to get out of your county is hard and then you need a bit of luck to get a run in Leinster. To get into the last four in Ireland is what dreams are made of.”

It has been tough off the field for Keegan as he juggled football with a difficult college course. He is now a Senior Consultant with EY and is grateful to Mickey Graham and the players for working around his work. Everyone it seems is making sacrifices for Mullinalaghta.

“If I have to work late on a Tuesday, Mickey will change training to Wednesday. The lads are brilliant. You then have lads who have deferred annual leave to make training sessions.

“It is that little bit easier when we are winning but we know it will not last forever. We are all happy to make the sacrifices.”

As John Keegan puts in the hard work on the field for Mullinalaghta, his father John is working hard off it.

As Chairman John Senior has seen a complete transformation of the club and the midfielder is proud of what his father and the other officers have achieved.

“He is delighted to have a great team around him and it is testament to the community spirit we have in the parish that everyone is willing to get involved.

“The whole committee are constantly doing thankless jobs to create a platform for us to go out and perform on the field of play.

“Thankfully, we are all enjoying a period of tremendous success at the minute. Without all the work behind the scenes in the club, we would not  be where we are so we definitely appreciate all their relentless work to support us”.

Mullinalaghta made national headlines with their Leinster title triumph back in December and Keegan is hoping they can do it again on Saturday.

“All we can ask is to do our best and play to our potential. Sport is a funny thing; it can take twists and turns and hopefully the fairytale continues.”

Saturday’s game has generated great excitement not just in Mullinalaghta but around the county of Longford. Keegan stated that the occasion is not just great for Mullinalaghta but for Longford.

“It’s not just the 400 people in Mullinalaghta travelling down to Semple Stadium, it’s every Longford supporter.

“They have a reason to stand up and be counted and put their hand up and say “I’m proud to be from Longford.” That’s infectious for every club. It’s great for Mullinalaghta and for Longford.”