The start of the summer evenings mean a return to mid week matches in Gainstown, on Wednesday last the Eagles hosted the Raharney Raiders in a local derby. Having won the reverse fixture 1-3 in Raharney the Mullingar side knew a victory and three points would have them a step closer to landing the Division West title.
Straight from the first whistle it was apparent that the Eagles meant business, the powerful midfield trio of Matthew Doyle, Colm Duffy & Matthew Thornton took hold of the game and set the wheels in motion for an impressive display. Carl McCormack was captain for the game, despite conceding two in the second period he rarely put a foot wrong & is developing into an outstanding Goalkeeper. This meant that the other keeper Darragh Mullen was afforded a place out field, Mullen seized this opportunity to show just how good a footballer he is can become, with a fantastic performance from centre half, exhibiting power and finesse on the ball as he partnered defensive colossus Tadgh Kelly.
The Eagles found the break-through early on, Colm Duffy and Matthew Thornton created space 20 yards from the opposition goal, Duffy released another trademark long range effort which flew over the Raharney goalie into the top corner. Wave after wave of Eagles attack meant a very uncomfortable start for the visitors, Cillian Kelly toiled on the left wing but it was the opposite that brought most joy for the home side. Simon Jorgensen started on the right wing, he tormented the full back from the get go, however worst was to follow for the under pressure defender. Hayden Nolan had one of his best displays for Mullingar, countless bursts down the flank ripped Raharney apart and on one occasion he brilliantly found striker Gavin Pierce who pulled off a neat little step over before burying his chance with aplomb.
The Eagles continued their theme of freshening up all over the pitch, Ruairi O’Dowd & Adam Clarke came into midfield to give the two Matthews a breather, both did well, O’Dowd with some telling passes & Clarke came close to scoring with a shot that was on target but need a save from the well worked Raiders keeper.
At the back Emmett Brennan & James Surgrue linked up well despite Raharney beginning to find a bit more space in the attacking third. A second ball from a corner broke on the edge of the box & a Raider was on hand to make it 2-1 five minutes into the second half. However the Eagles kept up their onslaught on the right, this time it was Gary Brannigan, who was out for a few weeks with injury. Brannigan just like Nolan was in electric form, terrorising the Raiders with attack after attack & very unfortunate not to score himself only for the crossbar to intervene. Brannigan also fed ball after ball into the box, one such effort broke to Fox in the Box Callum O’Halloran, unfortunately the Fox could not find the back of the net.
A third goal came from good play on said flank, as the ball worked its way into the box, Matthew Doyle capped a brilliant display with a deserved goal. Then the Gavin Pierce show, the striker could have had a first half hat-trick only for an excellent performance from the visiting goalkeeping. However even though the Raharney stopper could have been man of the match he was powerless to prevent the hitman’s second and third goals which bookend a second goal for the travelling Raiders. Nolan was at it again on the wing, finding Pierce with a wonderful pass for him to slot home. Stephen Battle foraged on the left creating a number of chances too but it was the imperious Thornton that created Pierces hat-trick goal with a telling pass that the cut the visitors in two. Pierce was outstanding and deserved the match ball but if it wasn’t for some brilliant shot stopping by the young Raider he could have had two hat-tricks or more. This was an awesome Eagles display as they showed exactly why they are top of the League, in a game that saw them score five goals, they could have doubled that tally were it not for an outstanding young man in the Raharney goal. Their play and attitude at times is incredible for a side so young. As things stands now they are just one result away from confirming their place as Champions.
Eagle of the Week: Carl McCormack, this is the Goalkeepers first season with Mullingar Athletic but you would not guess it. A remarkably brave and strong young man, Carl has the potential to be a great Goalie and he is a wonderful addition to the dressing with his attitude & application.