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.

Mul­li­gan ad­mit­ted:

“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

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