It was a pre-Christmas miracle.

The tiny half-parish team of Mullinalaghta had just stunned Kilmacud Crokes, a Dublin 'superclub' 32 times their size, and become the first Longford club to win a Leinster club SFC title.

Life was about to get weird for Shane Mulligan and his St Columba's team-mates as they became instant celebrities.

"It was all very surreal there after the Leinster final," the captain tells RTÉ Sport.  "We had a good laugh about it. When we got home to Mullinalaghta, the phones were hopping in the days after.

"The President wrote to us, Leo Varadkar wrote to us. Next thing the Late Late Show were on and wanted us to come on. The team WhatsApp was hopping. It was good sport and a great way to celebrate it.

"It was heavy going for a while. You were here, there and everywhere after that. Getting to schools and medal presentations, stuff like that, so lads were happy to get back to training.

"Thankfully, you had that break. The Leinster final was the eighth of December so Christmas finished it up really. Once you got through Christmas it all died down so January was back to training and focus the minds.

"It’s a real good feeling around training and it’s great to be there in the last four."

Saturday brings an All-Ireland semi-final date with Killarney giants Dr Crokes. Eight-time Munster champions, they claimed their second Andy Merrigan Cup in 2017.

Nobody is giving Mullinalaghta much of a chance against players with both club and county Celtic crosses like Colm Cooper, Fionn Fitzgerald and Johnny Buckley. But then nobody gave them a chance against the Crokes from the capital either.

"Of course you got that vibe in the build-up that you were huge underdogs, and there wasn’t a whole pile of hope being given to us, but thankfully it worked out for us," reflects Mulligan on that famous day in Tullamore.

"I suppose it was one of those things: ‘Isn’t it great to see them there? Hopefully they won’t be beat off the pitch and they’ll represent themselves well’.

"But within the dressing-room, when we broke it down – the same as we break down every game – we felt that we had enough talent to get the win.That’s all we really concentrate on.

"Thankfully, the game panned out as we wanted. We wanted to be in the mix with 10 or 15 minutes to go, because we felt we would have enough hunger and talent to get scores that would matter and that’s the way it panned out."

The odds on a Mullinalaghta victory this weekend are even longer than they were in the Leinster decider. But Mulligan insists that won't alter his side's approach.

"We don't find ourselves in a situation we haven't found ourselves in before," he reasons. "We're going in as underdogs but that's probably a tag we've had for 99% of the matches we went into.

"Within the Longford championship, you'd be punching above your weight as we'd be a very small club there. To win Championship was a big thing, being an underdog, to win three on the bounce has been huge and then to win Leinster...

"There's no underestimating the talent that's in that Dr Crokes team. They've been on this road before and a lot of them have been in with the Kerry set-up so you've seen them there.

"We'll try make sure we get our own lads to deliver their own performance on the day, because we're not going to go and say, 'Let's park the bus and try see how we get on.' We're going to try and deliver our own performance and be as competitive as we can and see where it takes us."

Manager Mickey Graham has been a busy man of late. He's double-jobbing as Cavan boss and Mulligan jokes that "We haven’t seen him since the Leinster final. We’ve a cardboard cut-out that we stand out in the middle of the pitch. We spin it around every often.

"Ah no, the whole pressure is probably on Mickey but to be fair he’s doing a great juggling act. Obviously, Division 1 is up and running but we’ve been getting the work done as well."

You get the feeling Graham wouldn't mind the hectic schedule for just a little longer if he got the chance to lead Mullinalaghta out in an All-Ireland final at Croke Park on 17 March.

And half the county would be there to cheer them on. The Longford Chamber of Commerce even announced plans to move their St Patrick's Day parade to Monday 18th, a decision wisely since postponed until they see if Mullinalaghta actually make it to the final.

"This is definitely tempting fate if ever they were moving the St Patrick's Day parade," laughs Mulligan. "It hasn't been mentioned in the dressing room. It has nothing to do with us and we haven't influenced it or requested it.

"So it won't affect us in the build-up. I'm sure there's probably people around Longford giving out that we're trying to take over the place but we'll be trying to just look after Saturday and St Patrick's Day will look after itself."

They could be riding a giant underdog float down Main Street on the 18th yet.

Follow the All-Ireland club SFC semi-finals with our live blog from 1.15pm and listen to live updates on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport