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09th Dec 2018

Mullinalaghta St Columba’s stun Kilmacud Crokes to win first ever Leinster championship

Patrick McCarry

“What is the point of getting there if you don’t believe?”

So said Mickey Graham, coach of Mullinalaghta St Columba’s, before his team took on Dublin champions Kilmacud Crokes in the Leinster Senior Football Championship final.

The tiny Longford parish won their first ever Leinster crown when they defeated Crokes 1-8 to 1-6.

The scores were level at the break but Kilmacusd went three points clear in the second half until the Longford side rallied superbly. The likes of Dublin stars Cian O’Sullivan and Paul Mannion, who was kept quiet by Paddy Fox, battled game for the Dubliners but the momentum was turning against them. They only managed one more point in the final 15 minutes (including injury time).

Mullinalaghta were awarded a penalty with five minutes to go and it was coolly slotted home to put Graham’s men ahead. They added an insurance point after that and, minutes later, were Leinster champs.

Speaking to TG4 after the game, Graham commented:

“I’m lost for words. Them lads, what they did out there today was phenomenal… Nobody gave us a chance before today, well nobody except for the lads.

“By God, the belief out there… getting stuck in and getting the dirty ball.”

“It just hasn’t sunk in. I’m shocked, totally shocked,” he added. “This gives small teams all over the country hope that the underdog can still win.”

Shane Mulligan then climbed the steps to lift the trophy for the Longford minnows, now Leinster’s kingpins. He declared:

“On behalf of the people of Mullinalaghta, it is an honour to stand here as Leinster champions… the population of Mullinalaghta has grown by one today. The McKaigue Cup is coming back to Mullinalaghta!”

“No-one could have ever dreamed that this day would come,” he added. “Please put your hands together for this panel of players.

“Light the bonfires, we’re coming home!”

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