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Mullinalaghta: Tiny Longford Half-Parish That Continues To Defy The Odds

Mullinalaghta: Tiny Longford Half-Parish That Continues To Defy The Odds
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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The GAA is seen by many as a numbers game. Dublin have by far the biggest population in the country, and they have dominated inter-county football during this decade. This extends to the club game too, where big 'town teams' tend to rule the roost within their own county.

For many rural clubs throughout the country, it can be difficult to see how they will ever manage to compete with some of their urban rivals. For inspiration on how it can be done, one need look no further that Longford's St Columba's Mullinalaghta.

Despite having a population of less than 400 people, they have won the last three county championships in a row. Today they managed to make history, becoming the first Longford club to reach the Leinster club SFC final.

Situated on the Longford-Cavan border, half of the parish stretches into the Ulster county. The club has 155 members. Despite their lack of playing resources, they have performed well during the provincial series in recent years.

Mullinalaghta will have come away from the tight losses to St Vincent's and St Loman's during the last two years with a number of lessons learned, and they entered this year's Leinster championship a far more experienced outfit.


They completely overpowered Carlow's Eire Óg today, rampaging to a 2-15 to 0-3 victory. It was a real statement of intent from the Longford club, who will now meet four-time Leinster champions Kilmacud Crokes in the provincial decider.

Former Cavan player Mickey Graham is the manager who has been the architect of the rise that has seen them become the dominant club in their own county. He will take the Cavan job next season, and he will want to leave on a high. There are few greater than a provincial title.


Having been at the helm of the club for three years, he is more appreciative than most of the plight faced by small clubs throughout the country. He told the Irish Independent:

We don't take anything or anybody for granted because we are such a small club.

Every day we go out we have to be on top of our game, we don't have a huge panel and everyone that starts a game has to be performing.

We felt in the last number of years that's what cost us, we don't have a lot of players to call on when a game is in the balance.

Mullinalaghta have been in lucky in many regards, losing only one player off the panel since 2016. Their players travel from all corners of the country to return for training and matches, when it would be much easier for them to stay away.

It is this commitment that has driven their winning attitude, and they will draw on every ounce of that when they step onto the pitch in two weeks time.


Their clash with Kilmacud will be billed as the ultimate David versus Goliath clash, a superpower from the country's capital against a small rural club that only consists of half a parish. If the GAA is indeed a numbers game, they will not have a chance.

But the numbers have not stopped Mullinalaghta yet. On December 2nd, they can rewrite the the history books.

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