"We have a population of 350 to 400 people but the GAA is the life and soul here" 4 months ago

"We have a population of 350 to 400 people but the GAA is the life and soul here"

Mullinalaghta is the smallest club in Longford.

A "half parish", it's made up of just 10 townlands and shares its land with Gowna in Cavan.

A lot of the senior players don't even live in in the county anymore but, for a club like Mullnalaghta, transferring isn't an option.

You'd think this was the start of a bleak report, an appeal to raise awareness about a small club on its knees and in danger of extinction but, amazingly, this is place that is absolutely booming, in sporting terms at least.

For the last years, the smallest club in the county have clinched the senior football championship title and, in 2018, they're now just 60 minutes away from being the first Longford team to ever appear in a Leinster senior final.

They went to Offaly and they saw off the mighty Rhode and, now, Éire Óg of Carlow stand in their with a provincial decider at the other side.

Sunday's game at Pearse Park will bring two communities in Ireland to a standstill but, for Mullinalaghta, everything revolves around the movement of a ball anyway.

Their manager, the new Cavan boss, Mickey Graham, is in awe of the place he has spent three seasons now and has delivered so much success to.

"It’s only tiny," he said in a fascinating interview on The GAA Hour.

"It has, I think, a population of 350 people to 400, that’s the population of it.

It’s a half parish of Gowna which runs into Cavan so it’s really tiny. It is the tiniest parish in Longford and it’s the smallest club in Longford and it's probably one of the smallest clubs in the country, I’d say."

And there they are in the Leinster senior semi-final with immortality beckoning. With a population in the region of 400, they've managed to build and sustain one of the most competitive football teams in the country.

"We’re working with a panel of about 25 to 26 so when you take that into consideration, the amount of people that live in the parish, and that's including men, women and kids.

"So to pull a team, a quality team like that together is an achievement in itself."

A parish of 400, half of them women. 200 people from the ages of 0 to 80 and upwards. How many are interested in sport? How many are good at it?

It seems the success rate in that little half parish in Longford is among the highest in the land.

And it's simple. The beating heart of Mullinalaghta is the GAA. It's the club.

"It’s a really tight-knit parish," Graham said.

"Everybody is involved in it basically and if you look back over the last three years, it’s basically the same players.

"We’ve lost nobody and we’ve gained nobody in those three years so it’s basically working off the same panel of players.

"We have a lot of lads working away in Dublin and in Drogheda and in Ashbourne and they make the effort and sacrifices to get home for training.

"It would it be very easy for them lads just to go and play where they’re living but, no, they just have such a commitment to Mullinalaghta."

It's more than just the players. This is a way of life, for everyone.

"The support is tremendous, I have to say. For such a small parish, everybody gets behind the team. It’s the life and soul, the GAA is the life and soul of the whole parish."

Listen to the full interview below.