Rian Brady pictured in action for Mullinalaghta St Columba's Photo: Syl Healy
Stunned Mullinalaghta let a commanding lead slip in falling at the first hurdle in the Leinster Club Senior Football Championship as Wicklow opponents Blessington battled back to snatch a sensational win in a frantic finish at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday.
Blessington (Wicklow) . . . 1-7 Mullinalaghta St Columba’s . . . 1-5
This shock result looked highly unlikely when St Columba’s were seven points in front at the break (1-5 to 0-1) with the goal coming from a penalty converted by wing back Gary Rogers in the 17th minute but the 2018 provincial champions somehow failed to register a score in the second half.
Despite the reduction to 14 players when Aidan McElligott was sent-off after receiving a straight red card with just nine minutes gone in the game, Mullinalaghta appeared to be in total control.
Although Blessington had the advantage of the wind on the changeover and made a bright start with a point from Anthony McLoughlin, it was looking like a mission impossible when their centre-half-back Craig Maguire was sent-off for a straight red card foul on Rogers in the 38th minute.
But the Blessington bravehearts completely dominated the final quarter of the contest with the substitutes introduced making a major impact in changing the course of the game.
The remarkable recovery was started with a point from one of the replacements, Curtis Geraghty, in the 50th minute and by the 60th minute the revitalised Wicklow champions had added another 1-4 to their tally to emerge victorious.
Substitute Dan Silke Featherston scored the decisive goal in the 56th minute as Blessington earned a crack at the Kildare champions Naas in the quarter-final.
MULLINALAGHTA ST COLUMBA’S: David O’Rourke; Simon Cadam, Patrick Fox, Francis Mulligan; Donal McElligott, Shane Mulligan, Gary Rogers (1-0, penalty); John Keegan (0-1), David McGivney (0-1); Michael Cunningham, James McGivney, Cian Mackey; Jayson Matthews, Aidan McElligott (0-1), Rian Brady (0-2).
Sub:- Brendan Fox for F Mulligan (47 mins).
BLESSINGTON: Jack Sargent; Conor Kenny (0-1), Jack Gilligan, Conall Gallagher; Kevin Hanlon, Craig Maguire, Brian Bohan; Dan Cooney, Kevin John Rogers; Martin Shannon, Anthony McLoughlin (0-1), Jack Cotter; Mikey O’Connor, Kevin Quinn (0-2, one free), Steven Bohan.
Subs:- Dan Silke Featherston (1-0) for B Bohan (first half stoppage time); Curtis Geraghty (0-1) for D Cooney (half-time); Dean Siney for M O’Connor (41 mins); David Boothman (0-2, frees) for KJ Rogers (49 mins); Eoin Keogh for M Shannon (60 mins).
Referee: Seamus Mulhare (Laois).
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