The double winning Mullinalaghta St Columba's senior football squad pictured with the Leader Cup and Connolly Cup at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday last. Photo: Declan Gilmore
After snatching a draw deep into stoppage time when David McGivney kept his composure to shoot the equalising point, Mullinalaghta eventually overcame Clonguish after extra-time to win the Leader Cup for the first time since 2013.
All County Football League Division 1 Leader Cup Final
Mullinalaghta St Columba’s . . . 1-15 Clonguish . . . 0-15
An attendance in the region of 400 watched St Columba’s (minus their injured full-back Patrick Fox) complete the elusive championship and league double but Mickey Graham’s side had to work extremely hard to emerge victorious in this entertaining end of season final at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday last.
Considering that they started the game without key forwards Paul Barden (suspended), Ciaran Williams (unavailable) and Joe O’Brien (struggling with injury), this was a gutsy display by Clonguish who lost three more players during the course of the senior league title decider.
Black cards were branded to Colin Farrell (20th minute) and David Faughnan (53rd minute) and Clonguish suffered a significant setback when prominent defender Ronan Sweeney was sent-off by referee Derek Fahy with seven minutes gone in the extra-time period.
In what appeared to be a very harsh decision, Sweeney received a black card in his tussle with Rian Brady and subsequent dissent shown by the frustrated Clonguish player resulted in a red card.
The Clonguish squad, officials and supporters were generally infuriated by some of the decisions made by the referee that went against them during the course of the extended game, most notably the dismissal of Sweeney.
That left Mullinalaghta with the extra man advantage, at a stage when they were 1-11 to 0-12 ahead following a point apiece from Jayson Matthews and John Keegan, and the county champions increased the lead with further scores from David McGivney (free) and defender Donal McElligott.
Clonguish, to their credit, battled back to close the gap with a brace of points (play and free) from Joe O’Brien (brought on in the 48th minute) and when wing back Darren Quinn surged forward to slot the ball over the bar the gap was closed to just the minimum of margins (1-13 to 0-15) with five minutes of the extra-time period remaining.
However, a point from Jayson Matthews (when a goal was on) eased the pressure on St Columba’s and they made certain of finishing a glorious year on a real high when Gary Rogers landed a well struck score just before the final whistle was blown.
But it could have been a different story had Clonguish converted at least one of the three clear-cut goal chances they created in the first half of normal time with Mullinalaghta keeper Patrick Rogers coming to the rescue with fine saves to deny Colin Farrell in the opening minute and then Chris Gordon in the 8th minute.
There was a goal there for the taking again when Farrell blasted the ball over the bar from close range in the 18th minute in another lucky escape for St Columba’s who ended up leading by 1-6 to 0-7 at the break.
The crucial goal was finished to the net in emphatic fashion by Rian Brady in the 10th minute, with the dangerous corner-forward also kicking a couple of points, while the other four scores (three frees) all came from David McGivney who ended up with the impressive total of 0-8 in playing a leading role in this title triumph.
David Barden (who had a penalty appeal turned down by the referee in the 15th minute) landed a couple of cracking points for Clonguish with Paddy Dowd (two frees), Colin Farrell, Kevin Burke and Chris Gordon also on target in the first half.
While Mullinalaghta made a strong start to the second half with two more points (play and free) from David McGivney, they failed to register another score until the third minute of stoppage time with McGivney the saviour to send this intriguing contest into extra-time as the sides finished deadlocked, 1-9 to 0-12.
St Columba's were guilty of shooting six wides in the second half in facing fierce resistance from a well organised packed Clonguish defence and this poor finishing almost cost the Mullinalaghta men the Leader Cup title in their quest to complete the double.
Trailing by 1-8 to 0-7 early in the second half, Clonguish showed great character to enjoy a terrific spell that yielded five scores in a row between the 42nd and 61st minutes to take the lead.
After Peter Hanley landed a point, another quickly followed from substitute Shane O’Brien who was most unfortunate not to score a goal as his well struck shot hit the crossbar.
Paddy Dowd then converted a free before David Barden kicked another excellent point to leave the sides all square in the 55th minute. And it was looking good for Clonguish who hit the front when Joe O’Brien drove a ‘45’ over the bar in the first minute of stoppage time.
But Mullinalaghta managed to rescue the situation with Gary Rogers creating the opportunity for David McGivney to level matters and the new kings of Longford football went on to outscore Clonguish 0-6 to 0-3 in the extra-time period to decide the destination of the prestigious Leader Cup.
MULLINALAGHTA ST COLUMBA’S: Patrick Rogers; Simon Cadam, Donal McElligott (0-1), James Mooney; Conan Brady, Shane Mulligan, Luke Meehan; Ruairi McElligott, John Keegan (0-1); Gary Rogers (0-1), James McGivney, David McGivney (0-8, five frees); Jayson Matthews (0-2), Aidan McElligott, Rian Brady (1-2).
Subs:- Conor McElligott for C Brady (46 mins); Michael Cunningham for R McElligott (55 mins); Francis Mulligan for M Cunningham (black card, ten minutes into extra-time).
CLONGUISH: Mikie McGuinness; Gerry Moore, Ronan Sweeney, Conor Shields; Darren Quinn (0-1), Stephen McLoughlin, Brendan Devine; Paddy Dowd (0-3, all frees), Peter Hanley (0-1); Kevin Burke (0-1), David Barden (0-3), Colin Farrell (0-1); Stephen Norton, David Faughnan, Chris Gordon (0-1).
Subs:- Shane O’Brien (0-1) for C Farrell (black card, 20 mins); Anthony Watters for G Moore (27 mins); Joe O’Brien (0-3, ‘45, one free) for S McLoughlin (48 mins); Paul Barden Jnr for D Faughnan (black card, 53 mins); Patrick Hernandez for C Gordon (56 mins); Paul Gallagher for A Watters (four minutes into extra-time); Brian Mahon for S O’Brien (16 minutes into extra-time).
Referee: Derek Fahy (Ballymore).