As Mullinalaghta St Columba's prepare to become the first Longford club to ever contest an AIB All-Ireland Club Senior Football Championship semi-final, Kerry club Ballymacelligott this week produced a fabulous tribute to one of their own - Dan McElligott - a man who has been instrumental in Mullinalaghta’s meteoric rise.
It is a remarkable coincidence that standing between Mullinalaghta, the men from the North Longford ‘half parish’, and a place in the St Patrick’s Day club showdown is Dr Crokes of Killarney. Mullinalaghta and Crokes collide at 3.30pm on Saturday, February 16 in Semple Stadium, Thurles.
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Dan has managed umpteen Mullinalaghta sides over the past three decades and his sons Aidan, Ruairi, Cian, Conor and Donal are integral cogs in the Mullinalaghta armoury.
In 1998, Dan, who starred as player with Ballymacelligott, brought the U-10 Mullinalaghta St Columba's side that he coached down to Kerry to play his native Ballymac in a challenge game and the tribute video includes footage from that match.
The Mullinalaghta U-10 squad of '98 includes current senior players Patrick Rogers, Gary Rogers, Conan Brady, Francis Mulligan, Donal McElligott, James McGivney and John Keegan, while Aidan McElligott and David McGivney were also there on the day.
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The tribute was produced and compiled by Aidan Breen, along with Adrian Locke and Michael Herlihy.
Indeed, Aidan actually lined out for Ballymac in that U-10 game twenty-one years ago, and at the end we hear the Ballymac coach Tadhg Kerins, thanking Mullinalaghta for the match, tells the players; "Ye'll probably win the All-Ireland when yer time will come."
Could his words be prophetic?
The tribute features a contribution from Dan’s son Aidan who says his father lives, sleeps and breathes Mullinalaghta football.
Kerry’s 1984 GAA Centenary Year All-Ireland senior winning captain, Ambrose O’Donovan, described Dan as ‘a tough competitor’ and there are also contributions from Dan’s Ballymac neighbours, the Herlihys, and others like Jerome Leen and DC O’Keeffe.
One of the Ballymac stalwarts suggests that when Dan departed ‘it took the heart and soul of the club’.
Certainly a case of Ballymac’s loss was Mullinalaghta’s gain!