Monday 14 October 2019

'There is going to be one hell of a party for the next week, and up to Christmas'

9 December 2018; Rian Brady of Mullinalaghta St Columba's celebrates with supporters after the AIB Leinster GAA Football Senior Club Championship Final match between Kilmacud Crokes and Mullinalaghta St Columba's at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park in Offaly. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
9 December 2018; Rian Brady of Mullinalaghta St Columba's celebrates with supporters after the AIB Leinster GAA Football Senior Club Championship Final match between Kilmacud Crokes and Mullinalaghta St Columba's at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park in Offaly. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Gary Rogers knew his moment had come. Miss the penalty kick and Mullinalaghta's dream was almost certainly shattered: score and the Leinster title was most likely heading to north Longford.

He was facing David Nestor, who had made a brilliant save from a Craig Rogers penalty late in the semi-final against Portlaoise two weeks earlier.

Would Nestor save a second penalty from a Rogers? Not this time. Gary held his nerve, sweeping a low shot to the net to give Mullinalaghta the lead and a route into a place in history as the first team to bring Leinster club glory to Longford.

"I just said 'I'll hit it as hard as I can and if he saves it, fair play to him'," said Rogers.

Relief all round for Mullinalaghta as the ball nestled in the net.

"Every game we played this year, we always targeted the last ten minutes to try and push on. They missed a bit and we got a bit of luck, but you need that on these days. We worked hard and got our reward," said Rogers.

He was still trying to come to terms with the significance of what had been achieved by a parish whose population is ten times smaller than Kilmacud's membership.

"It's massive. Even for myself, I haven't played county football for a couple of years now and even for other lads, we'll probably never play in a bigger game than this," he said.

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"This is a Leinster final. Realistically Longford won't go too far in Leinster with Dublin so this is massive for the county as well. It just shows we can compete when we put our minds to it."

A beaming Mickey Graham was looking forward to continuing his dual mandate as Mullinalaghta and newly-appointed Cavan manager.

"I'm not going to worry about that at this moment in time. I just have to sit down and gather all my thoughts and let this settle in," he said.

"There is going to be one hell of a party in Mullinalaghta for the next week, and up to Christmas because what this club has done is a fairytale."

Despite trailing by three points after 55 minutes, Graham still believed his side could work their way through the Kilmacud puzzle.

"We felt in the second half that if we could keep it tight and we didn't let them get away from us, come the last five minutes or ten minutes, we'd absolutely go for it. That's what we did and the lads got their reward," he said.

Kilmacud joint-manager Robbie Brennan was disappointed by the number of chances his side wasted in the second half, in particular, and also by the failure to press forward with more cohesion.

"For whatever reason we reverted back to type, which we had been doing for the last three (games), more of a defensive game, keep ball, go backwards with it," he said.

"We reverted back to that for some strange reason and it caught us. To be fair, Mullinalaghta probably deserved to win.

"We didn't play well so I don't think we can have too many complaints."

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