Sunday 23 July 2017

'Fans came home from New York to see us' - McGivney

Waterford manager Derek McGrath with his Hurling Personality Award at the Gaelic Writers Awards last night at the Jackson Court Hotel in Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile
Waterford manager Derek McGrath with his Hurling Personality Award at the Gaelic Writers Awards last night at the Jackson Court Hotel in Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Chances are you've never heard of Mullinalaghta and up until recently, GAA folk would have had very little reason to. A Longford village of approximately 500 people, located on the Cavan border, would never normally grab the headlines but having ended their 66-year wait for senior glory, they got a well deserved day in the sun.

In an era where more and more urban powerhouses are influencing trophy lists, St Columba's shine bright. What the half parish lack in numbers, they make up for in spirit, according to influential forward James McGivney.

With the last survivor of their 1950-winning team passing away last year, there was a sense of anguish that they were unable to honour his memory but they made amends 12 months later.

More renowned for its picturesque views overlooking Lough Gowna, a special group of players created their own beautiful scene as Mullinalaghta took over Pearse Park.

"Everybody really came behind the team. We had supporters coming home from New York. We had support from everywhere," McGivney outlined.

"All members of the club, past and present, were involved. It was a huge occasion for everybody in our community, we're very close."

Honours

Having helped power Longford's minors to a rare Croke Park triumph when claiming provincial honours in 2010, and a central cog of the U-21 side which came agonisingly close to Leinster triumph a year later, McGivney's rise through the ranks was well touted.

Partnered in attack by younger brother David, who will join him in the Longford senior ranks next season, it's only natural that club success would soon follow.

But like most winning journeys, it wasn't without its difficulties. "We are spread across, we have a few lads down in Athlone, five or six in Dublin and, in fairness, they were the lads driving it on," he said. "They were coming back down for training during the Christmas last season. Without those lads coming down we'd only have five or six at training, so hats off to them, they kept the whole thing going.

"By the time we got back in they were in flying shape. You wouldn't think it was a club scene at all, it was a real professional outfit like the county set-up."

Celebration cobwebs were blown off with a game five days after their county final win so surprise Laois champions Stradbally will hold no fear in tomorrow's Leinster quarter-final.

"Nobody knows anything about us and we know very little about Stradbally. To be honest, it's called The Toughest for a reason, we know any team you meet at this stage will be strong. We are just hoping to perform and get over the line," he said.

Irish Independent

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