THIS IS OUR ’Abbey eye CHANCE TO an elusive senior title SHINE
HE’S heard the David versus Goliath references and Shane Mulligan agrees it would be almost biblical if tiny Mullinalaghta win the AIB Leinster club title.
Asked what passage of the bible it might be like, the veteran defender smiled: “Maybe it would be like arriving back from the dead, would it?!”
That’s not a bad description because for over 60 years Mullinalaghta couldn’t win a Longford title and, at times, wondered if football in the area was on its deathbed.
“We were intermediate not that long ago. We were junior back in the 1970s. But there’d been a golden era back in the 40s and 50s when they were a powerhouse in Longford and it’s been about trying to get back to that.”
Mickey Graham has inspired the current golden era since taking over and has managed the St Columba’s club to the last three Longford titles.
But with the 2016 census recording a population of just 447 in the little parish pressed against the Cavan border, success will probably always be fleeting and cyclical.
Graham will leave to manage Cavan exclusively when the club run ends too so the sense that tomorrow is their big chance to make history is strong. Realistically, they may not be back here again.
Former Longford back Mulligan admitted: “That’s a fair assessment. I guess these things come in cycles and there’s every possibility that you’re right, especially because we are such a small club in numbers.”
Cut that 447 figure in half and you’re left with around 220 males. So the club might be picking from around 100 who are actually of footballing age?
Mulligan nearly choked on his tea at that one and laughed: “100! In the parish! God no. They’re probably all going to be togged out on Sunday. If they’re there and they’re eligible to play, they’ll probably be togged out.
“That fall off of those who don’t play would be small. And it has to be small for us to compete. There wouldn’t be near 100 anyway.
“It’s hats off to the work at underage level really. They’re playing 13-a-side and getting only 15 lads out but winning the championship. That’s kind of been the strength of it.”
Mulligan goes along with the theory that they’re in a boom period and need to make the most of it.
He said: “If you look at the numbers, you’re probably just in the middle of a little golden era.
“That’s just down to the group of players that are after coming together. We’re joined with Abbeylara for underage, we’re Northern Gaels, and there is a group of players with us now that would have won from U-14 right the way up, U-16, minor. That was kind of like the final push that pushed us on.”
Foxrock Mourneabbey Parnell Park, 5.15pm
Ladies All-ireland Senior Club Final
v MOURNEABBEY may have reached their fourth All-ireland Ladies Senior Club Football Final in the last five years but according to Eimear Meaney, they have yet to show their full talents on the big stage.
Rightly regarded as one of the country’s top club teams, it is perhaps a blot on their record to have five Cork titles, five Munster wins and no All-ireland glory, but against Foxrockcabinteely this evening (5.15pm) at Parnell Park, the Cork girls are determined to amend that statistic.
After an extra-time win over today’s opponents in last season’s semi-final, Mourneabbey misfired badly in the final against Carnacon.
Meaney, a 2018 TG4
All Star nominee, says they are determined to at least play to their potential today.
“Obviously you don’t forget how disappointing those finals were but, to be honest, some of them are a bit of a blur. The matches passed us by,” says 21-year-old Meaney, who will wear the No. 2 shirt.
“In every final and semi-final we lost we definitely had the ability to win those games and that’s something that is very hard to accept.
“If we go out and perform to the best of our ability on Saturday then we can only hold our hands up and congratulate them.
“Whereas if you go out and don’t perform to the best of your ability you’re kicking yourself for the next 12 months until you get back there.
“If a habit repeats itself it’s very difficult. You can’t pin it down to any specific moment in any match, there’s too much happening.
“All I can say is I don’t think we every performed to our best in any final yet and that’s what we’re hoping for.”
SHOWING NO FEAR Shane Mulligan says Mullinalaghta have nothing to lose tomorrow