There was an upset of seismic proportions in O’Connor Park today as St Columba’s, Mullinalaghta lowered the colours of the mighty Kilmacud Crokes by 1-8 to 1-6 in the Leinster Club SFC decider.
Billed as a David versus Goliath clash in advance, the Shane Mulligan captained outfit hit 1-2 without reply to come from behind in a drama-packed finish and become the first Longford club to achieve provincial glory.
The game’s turning point arrived in the 57th minute when Dublin star Cian O’Sullivan pulled down Aidan McElligott inside the large rectangle.
Gary Rogers displayed nerves of steel to send David Nestor the wrong way from the penalty spot to parachute his team into a one-point lead with one minute of normal time left on the clock.
McElligott doubled their advantage shortly after and they held firm during four minutes of stoppage time.
Kilmacud’s woes were compounded when O’Sullivan was sent off late on and the final whistle was greeted with wild scenes of celebration from the victorious team’s players and supporters.
'Man-of-the-match' Paddy Fox held Paul Mannion scoreless from play and they will now aim to continue their giant killing exploits when they square up to Dr Crokes of Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final which is pencilled in for the weekend of February 16/17.
The underdogs drew first blood through Rian Brady straight from the throw-in but three minutes later the ball was in the back of the Longford team’s net after Pat Burke finished off a pass from Mannion.
Brady had a chance to cancel out Burke’s three pointer at the opposite end of the field shortly after but his effort cleared the Crokes crossbar.
It was nip and tuck throughout the early exchanges and the Stillorgan men lost Liam Flatman to a black card in the 17th minute.
Two points without reply from the impressive Brady and Donal McElligott got Mickey Graham’s charges back on level terms before David McGivney edged them in front from a free.
Mannion brought the curtain down on the first-half scoring with a close range free and the sides were level at the break – 0-5 to 1-2.
Mullinalaghta went 20 minutes without scoring after the resumption and white flags from Craig Dias, Callum Pearson, Mannion (free) and Burke placed the Johnny Magee/Robbie Brennan managed Kilmacud in pole position entering the closing stages.
There was to be, however, an unexpected twist in the plot as the team in maroon and white staged a remarkable late match-winning rally.
St Columba’s, Mullinalaghta - P Rogers; S Cadam, P Fox, C Brady; D McElligott (0-1), S Mulligan, F Mulligan; A McElligott (0-1), J Keegan; G Rogers (1-0), J McGivney, B Fox; D McGivney (0-2, 1f), R Brady (0-4, 1f), J Matthews. Sub: M Cunningham for F Mulligan.
Kilmacud Crokes - D Nestor; L Flatman, R McGowan, A McGowan; C O'Connor, C O'Shea, C O'Sullivan; C Dias (0-1), C Casey; S Horan, S Williams, S Cunningham; P Burke (1-1), P Mannion (0-2f), C Pearson (0-2). Subs: A Jones for L Flatman (BC), K Dyas for S Williams, M Vaughan for C Pearson, N Nolan for R McGowan.
Referee - D Gough.