The moment arrives this weekend, the miracle of Mullinalaghta writes its next chapter.
History will be made in Thurles at 20 past three on Saturday, when the St. Columbas jersey’s take the field. The first Longford team to play in an All-Ireland club semi-final.
And for added history the first Longford team to take part in an All-Ireland semi-final for 51-years. The opposition that day, August fourth 1968, Kerry!
Now that history is out of the way, I’ll be the first to say, there are no such things as miracles. History may repeat itself, sport may have tradition but miracles rarely occur.
Mullinalaghta have been knocking on the door for three years. Like Eugene McGee explained in the excellent players of the faithful documentary.
It was the effort of getting closer and closer to Kerry, with two previous attempts before bang! Seamus Darby secured a very famous victory.
2016 is the beginning of this tale, Mickey Graham bringing the Longford championship to the half parish and a trip into Leinster, starting with a two point victory over St. Lomas Mullingar.
The big guns of Dublin’s, St.Vincents arrived in Glennon Brothers Pearse Park to inflict a seven point defeat. But Vincents are the big guns, 29 Dublin, seven Leinster and three All-Ireland titles.
That was David v Goliath and Goliath won.
The first time I spoke to Mickey Graham was ahead of the 2017 Leinster championship preliminary round game with Eire Og.
Graham’s positivity struck me from the beginning, highlighting how the door was very much open to run to the final, the key being that Vincent’s were on the opposite side of the draw.
1-14 to 1-7 they beat the Carlow men, not as comfortable as the score-line suggests but the door was open, however there was no fairy-tale in 2017.
Mickey Graham and the Mullinalaghta men, left disappointed to the core with the one point defeat to St.Loman’s in the quarter-final.
Defeat is the greatest of all teachers
I’ll not pretend to be close to Mickey Graham, however I enjoy the relationship that he and Mullinalaghta have with myself and everyone at Shannonside.
Mickey and the club has the right way of working with people and one which Mickey and a lot of Mullinalaghta club members have told us they are proud of.
Something was different about the Mullinalaghta of 2018. There was an edge to their training early in the year. The aim was not just the Longford title, but the Leinster crown.
Like as Eugene McGee explained, when masterminding the 1984 All-Ireland title, its progress over a period rather than one season wonders.
Abbeylara are probably the unluckiest of all Longford teams. A good hard working team, just caught behind the greatest club side ever produced from county Longford, capturing three-in-a-row.
The focus moved quickly with Graham’s side from the replayed Longford final to the two point win over Rhode and then an 18-point win over Eire og.
In 12-months Mullinalaghta had improved over the Carlow champions by 11-points!
When Kilmacud Crokes stood in their way, I honestly fancied Mullinalaghta. Crokes weren’t as good as the St. Vincent’s team of old.
Mullinalaghta had closed the gap on the St.Vincents team of 2016, it was just a weaker Dublin champion that squared up to the Mullinalaghta men.
There are no miracles as I said, what Graham has shown in his three Longford and Leinster winning campaigns is long-term planning.
Developing the players and the team style as time moved on.
Now a new challenge awaits Graham and his Mullinalaghta men. Win lose or draw, there will be no miracle in Semple Stadium on Saturday.
Just the result of constant planning, effort and development.
Mullinalaghta Miracle becomes Longford Miracle
When a small county is down eight players, from the best club the county has seen, surely there’s only one result for Longford? Bad results – that’s what I expected.
The win over Louth was very good, the draw with Offaly another good results, the win over Carlow was in some quarters a miracle.
Well, I still don’t believe in miracles. Padric Davis has had a great start as Longford boss. He took over a team in very good shape form Denis Connerton, but five points from six is great form even with a full team.
The question is now, either before or after Paddy’s day, will the Mullinalaghta players even make the Longford bench?
Team of us goes silver
Week three of the six nations is fast approaching and Ireland are not where they wanted to be. The England defeat shattering many peoples hopes that Ireland will make a World Cup final this November.
I can hear phones and tablets being smacked by rugby folk around the country, much the way they ran to buy the DVD of the friendly win over New Zealand in Chicago two years ago.
With some players returning and some training field work, Ireland will finish second in this year’s six nations. France and Italy aren’t up to much.
England will beat Wales and Ireland will travel to Cardiff in the final week playing for the silver medals, unable to overturn the bonus points England have already racked up on the board.
I’m a big fan of the Irish rugby team as you know, we may have the strongest side we’ve ever had, but England, New Zealand and Australia are still better than us when it comes to the crunch!
Crunch one arrived 20 seconds into the England game in Dublin. Crunch number two will happen in the World cup!