McGivney brothers inspire Mullinalaghta
Mullinalaghta 1-14 Eire Og 1-7
A year ago Mullinalaghta came close to becoming the first Longford side to reach the Leinster SFC club final but came up four points short of St Vincent's in the last four, and this impressive win over five-time champions Eire Og suggests they can go one better this time round.
Next up for the tiny half-parish on the Cavan border will be a repeat clash with Westmeath champions St Loman's, who they beat last year, and manager Mickey Graham knows they will need to keep improving.
Eire Og, who won their 27th Carlow crown after a replay last week against Rathvilly, looked heavy-footed and could have done with a longer gap to prepare for this clash at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park.
Mullinalaghta laid the foundation for success with an accomplished first-half display with the breeze at their back, with Longford star James McGivney shooting three points from play and his younger brother David landing four frees.
"It was typical Leinster club championship. It had a lot of physicality, big hits, some nice football at times and our lads coped with the defensive structure they had up very well," said Graham.
"We did a lot of things right. We made a few mistakes and you get punished when you make those errors at this level. But we are happy enough to get over the line.
"We knew with the way Éire Óg set up, we needed to get our noses in front early and if we did that then we hoped they would come out and go at us a bit, which would leave space inside.
"In the second half they pushed up and came at us. They got their purple patch for ten or 15 minutes but we had done enough to manage the second half."
Eire Og, who only got their opening score in first-half stoppage-time, from Darragh O'Brien, rallied in the third quarter with the breeze, and a couple of points from Carlow senior Sean Gannon helped them cut the gap.
But Mullinalaghta kept hitting back with points with Rian Brady joining the McGivney brothers with a couple of key points.
Eire Og didn't help their cause with ten wides, and Derek Hayden failing to make the most of a couple of goal chances, but they got hopes of a late rescue job when O'Brien forced the ball to the net in the fourth minute of eight additional minutes at the end.
But that was as close as they got, with Jayson Matthews easing the nerves of the Mullinalaghta supporters with a fine effort to put four points between them.
And they finished in style with Gary Rogers blasting to the net at the end of a good passing movement to seal the win.
By then a disappointing day for the Carlow champions had taken another bad turn when full-back Mark Fitzgerald was sent off when he picked up a second yellow card at the end of an entertaining contest.
Mullinalaghta will enjoy home advantage again next day out against St Loman's and will fancy their chances of extending their season.
Scorers - Mullinalaghta: D McGivney 0-5 (5fs), J McGivney 0-4, G Rogers 1-0, R Brady 0-3, J Matthews 0-2 (1f). Éire Óg: D O'Brien 1-2 (0-1f), S Gannon 0-2, C Mullins, R Dunphy, C Blake 0-1 each.
Mullinalaghta - P Rogers; S Cadam, P Fox, F Mulligan; C Brady, S Mulligan, D McElligott; R McElligott, J Keegan; D McGivney, J McGivney, G Rogers; J Matthews, R Brady, C McElligott. Subs: A McElligott for R McElligott (45), M Cunningham for Keegan (47), Keegan for Cunningham (52), Cunningham for D McGivney (55), D McGivney for Cunningham (57).
Éire Óg - R Moore; F O'Toole, M Fitzgerald, B Kavanagh; J Lowry, P McElligott, R Dunphy; S Gannon, K Chatten; C Mullins, J Morrissey, E Ruth; Derek Hayden, M Furey, D O'Brien. Subs: C Blake for Morrissey (45), E Kelly for Lowry (57), M Ware for Dunphy (61), N Quinlan for Mullins (61).
Ref - S Mulhare (Laois).