Padraic O’Brien – Longford Leader
All the damage was done in the first half as Killoe built up a commanding ten points lead. mainly due to a couple of decisive goals in quick succession, and there was no way back for Mullinalaghta in the Senior Football Championship Final at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday last.
Watched by a very big attendance in the region of 4,500 aided by a dry day, the nervous tension of the major occasion got to St. Columba’s who were guilty of making a lot of mistakes in the first half and there was just no stopping the rampant Emmet Og side who made very good use of the stiff wind advantage to lead by 2-8 to 0-4 at the break.
The Mullinalaghta club were appearing in the county senior final for the first time in 62 years and while there were high hopes for the current squad, the chances of a shock win were shattered with those two goals – cracking strikes from Denis McGoldrick and ‘impact’ substitute Larry Moran in the 23rd and 25th minutes.
McGoldrick planted an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net, at a stage when St. Columba’s were already trailing by 0-8 to 0-3, and things got even worse soon after when Larry Moran cut in from the left to blast the ball past the opposing keeper Patrick Rogers when the angle appeared to be too tight.
Game, set and match to Killoe who sat back on the cushion of their big advantage for most of the second half and succeeded in operating a most effective defensive gameplan in preventing Mullinalaghta from getting the goal they so badly needed.
While wind assisted St. Columba’s enjoyed the greater share of the possession on the changeover in their determined efforts to make some sort of impact, they were unable to put Emmet Og under any serious pressure and their cause was severely hampered by some poor finishing.
The gallant losers were guilty of kicking a total of 12 wides – seven in the second half – whereas Killoe clocked up eight wides during the course of a disappointing county final that lacked a real competitive edge.
Having said that, Emmet Og played some excellent football in the first half to put the issue beyond all doubt on their way to regaining the Connolly Cup they last won two years ago. And particularly impressive during the dominant period that decided the destination of the 2014 county title was Daniel Mimnagh.
Apart from firing over a couple of points, Mimnagh was a constant threat whenever he received the ball and ended up winning the man of the match award. But others to figure most prominently for the worthy winners over the hour were resolute defender Darragh Bennett and flying forward Larry Moran, the latter scoring 1-2 from play
Michael Quinn was also much to the fore in the heart of the defence, particularly so when he dropped deep into the full-back-line for the second half, and there was a lot to like about this slick Emmet Og team when they clicked into top gear.
Back as the kings of Longford football in winning the senior title for a 10th time, Killoe will now embark on another Leinster adventure away to the eventual Westmeath winners in the quarter-final on Sunday November 9th and who knows where it will take them.
Mullinalaghta, on the other hand, will feel that they did not do themselves justice but reaching the county final was a tremendous achievement in itself.
Resolute defender Conan Brady produced a braveheart performance throughout the game while the introduction of JJ Matthews (brought on in the 25th minute) certainly injected considerable more danger into the starting attack that struggled to trouble a very solid Killoe defence with corner-back Cian Farrelly playing particularly well.
JJ Matthews scored three points for St. Columba’s and there was also a greater threat about Kevin Mulligan (back briefly from his travels abroad) after he came on in the 46th minute.
James McGivney made a better impact in the second half, as did a few other Mullinalaghta players, but they were always fighting a losing battle once they fell ten points behind.
Denis McGoldrick (who played a notable part in the latest Killoe triumph with 1-2 to his credit) got his points in the first half with the other scores coming from Sean McCormack, Daniel Mimnagh (2), Paddy Thompson (when a goal was on), Simon Kiernan and wing back Shane Dowd.
The four St. Columba’s points in the first half were fired over by David McGivney (two frees), Donal McElligott (on target from a tight angle) and JJ Matthews and the underdogs were in a very bad place at the break.
But at least they battled back in a brave bid to close the wide gap with James McGivney shooting over the bar immediately on the changeover and his younger brother David then converted a free in the 36th minute.
18 minutes were gone in the second half before Killoe registered their next score through the lively Larry Moran who shot over the bar after receiving the ball from Daniel Mimnagh. And before that Simon Kiernan was denied a goal when his point-blank shot was well saved by the Mullinalaghta keeper Patrick Rogers.
St. Columba’s also had their goal chances with Jayson Matthews (45 mins) losing the ball in front of the posts while the always alert Killoe defender Daniel Keogh came to the rescue when blocking a shot from Kevin Mulligan (51 mins) in his attempt to find the back of the net.
Mulligan also hit the upright, as did David McGivney from a free, but at least the Mullinalaghta perseverance was rewarded with three points in a row through JJ Matthews (2) and McGivney (free) between the 49th and 52nd minutes.
Now trailing by the two goals (2-9 to 0-9), St. Columba’s went on to squander a few more chances before Killoe eventually scored again in the 58th minute – Larry Moran racing through to fist the ball over the bar.
Sean McCormack then fired over another free and Mullinalaghta almost snatched a consolation goal in stoppage time when Kevin Mulligan’s close range effort was parried over the bar by Darragh Bennett before competent referee Michael O’Brien blew the final whistle.
KILLOE EMMET OG: Stephen Coy; Cian Farrelly, Darragh Bennett, Daniel Keogh; Shane Dowd (0-1), Joe McCormack, Michael Quinn; Paddy Thompson (0-1), Simon Kiernan (0-1); Eugene Clarke, Daniel Mimnagh (0-2), Ronan McGoldrick; Mark Hughes, Sean McCormack (0-2, one free), Denis McGoldrick (1-2, one point from free).
Subs:- Larry Moran (1-2) for R McGoldrick (22 mins); Paddy Kiernan for D McGoldrick (54 mins); Liam Hughes for E Clarke (54 mins); Ronan Keogh for C Farrelly (57 mins).
MULLINALAGHTA ST. COLUMBA’S: Patrick Rogers; Conan Brady, Patrick Fox, Simon Cadam; James McGivney (0-1), Shane Mulligan, Francis Mulligan; Ruairi McElligott, John Keegan; Donal McElligott (0-1), Gary Rogers, Conor McElligott; David McGivney (0-4, all frees), Jayson Matthews, Aidan McElligott.
Subs:- JJ Matthews (0-3) for C McElligott (25 mins); Rian Brady for A McElligott (44 mins); Kevin Mulligan (0-1) for Jayson Matthews (46 mins).
Referee: Michael O’Brien (Longford Slashers).