The man who dragged Mullingar Shamrocks back into the reckoning in the senior football championship says they will relish the chance to take on town rivals, St Loman’s in the semi-final.
Darragh Daly came off the bench in last Wednesday’s quarter-final replay with his side eight points adrift of Tyrrellspass and made a massive contribution as Mullingar Shamrocks staged the comeback of the season to win by 3-11 to 1-14. Daly flicked home a goal and played a crucial part in at least another 1-1 as Bernard Flynn’s charges trumped last year’s finalists.
“It’s definitely a mouth-watering challenge; everyone knows St Loman’s are a step ahead at the moment and we’re working towards a crack at them. We know they’re defending champions and they will be working hard to defend that title,” he said when asked about Sunday week’s semi-final.
“We have two and a half weeks to prepare and all we can do is concentrate on our own game, really work hard and try and improve on what let us down in the first half today. We’ll relish the chance to take on St Loman’s and I can’t wait for it,” he added.
Daly played down his role in the sensational fight-back. “It was down to the quality of ball coming in, the lads out the field were doing very well. Donal (O’Donoghue) got a great goal coming off me and Lorcan got another good goal also, so it made things a bit easier,” he said.
Past experiences stood to the Mullingar men, who staged memorable comebacks against both St. Loman’s and Garrycastle en route to the 2012 title.
“Eight points down was huge. We were in the same position before, in a county final, where we were nine points down. We just got together at half-time and said, ‘okay, we’ve got out of holes like this before.’ Everyone just dug deep and we knew that performance was in us. It was brilliant,” observed Daly, who’s battling with injury ahead of the semi-final.
Mullingar Shamrocks manager, Bernard Flynn was delighted with the character his side showed in the second half, but said a 60-minute performance is a must when they take on the defending champions on Sunday week.
“On that performance we’d have to improve another 50-60% to compete with St Loman’s. That’s the challenge now. Losing is no good, I’ve no interest in that. They are the best team in the county at the moment, but we’ll plan meticulously for it and see what happens. I’m looking forward to it anyway,” he remarked.
Flynn insisted Daly’s presence at full forward wasn’t the only factor in his side’s resurgence and noted that several other players upped their performance in the second half after failing to compete with Tyrrellspass in the opening 30 minutes. That satisfied him, but he he said there will be no room for a repeat of their first half performance when they meet their neighbours.
“It’s only a quarter-final, we’ve won nothing. St Loman’s are there and they’re red hot favourites. They’re better than anyone else at the moment. But the only thing I will say is that compared to the last day we will be better,” he added.
St Loman’s had 14 points to spare over Mullingar Shamrocks in round three (2-12 to 0-4) and Flynn said there’s a lot to work on ahead of Sunday week’s showdown. Shamrocks face into that game (a repeat of the 2012 semi-final which they won after a replay) without Kieran Gavin and Daly is still struggling, with Flynn suggesting he’s only about 60% fit at this stage.