herald

Wednesday 26 June 2019

'We realised last night we might give them a go' says jolly Rogers

Gary Rogers
Gary Rogers

In years to come, in echoes of Ray Houghton and the English net, Gary Rogers will doubtless be recalled in song as the Mullinalaghta penalty hero who killed off the mighty Kilmacud.

And according to Rogers, it had dawned on him only the previous night that the Dublin champions might be there for the taking. "Last night we looked at a few videos of Kilmacud; it was only last night we kind of realised we might actually give them a go," he said.

"Man on man, when we went 15 on 15 it just worked for us. In fairness they missed a bit, we missed a bit in the first half ... but we got the rub of the green then and got the penalty and look, I put it away.

"It's just great for the parish and you can see all the people here today. We're the first team from Longford to do it, it's just fantastic."

Competing

Not alone the first Longford winners of the Seán McCabe Cup but their first ever Leinster finalists. A place with a population of 447 (according to the last Census) competing against a club with circa 4,800 individual members.

In his victory speech, Shane Mulligan alluded to the much-documented population of this half-parish on the Cavan border, then added with a flourish: "The population of Mullinalaghta has grown by one today - the McCabe Cup is coming home to Longford!"

The celebrations are sure to be epic. Then it will be case of tuning into another 'David v Goliath' showdown - an All-Ireland semi-final date with Dr Crokes of Killarney on February 16.

All of which will add to the hectic schedule of Mickey Graham, who has already started his tenure as Cavan boss and whose term in charge of Mullinalaghta will end (eventually) when they exit the All-Ireland race.

"The show goes on but I'm not going to worry about that now," Graham beamed. "I just have to sit down and gather all my thoughts and let this settle in, because this is going to be one hell of a party over in Mullinalaghta for the next week, and up to Christmas. Because for this club to do this, is a fairytale.

"It's astonishing what they're after achieving, and every club that watched this game on telly today will say 'You know what, maybe we could do that some day' because there's still hope in the underdog."

Graham reckoned that the pre-match consensus - "there was absolutely no pressure on us, nobody really gave us a chance" - was the perfect preparation. But even he seemed taken aback by it all.

"It just hasn't sunk in. My heart is still racing," he admitted. "When we got the goal, the dream became a reality at that stage. I think the boys realised that and they just seemed to find energy from somewhere in the last five to six minutes.

Catapult

"That goal, I felt, was just was the catapult that we needed if we were going to win the game. And when you're against the big teams like this, it's a great time to get a goal, let me tell you."

But a terrible time to concede one. "We were two or three up with maybe five minutes to go but even as a management we felt we needed another one or two to get the lead to the four in case something like that happened," said Crokes co-manager Robbie Brennan. "And of course, eggs is eggs, it's going to happen."

Brennan had "absolutely" no qualms about the penalty but added: "There were a few other ones that I think Dave (Gough) might have to take a look at himself as a ref. But no, we don't blame him. It's definitely their day."

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