Mountnugent will contest this year's ACFL Division Three decider following their gritty semi-final victory over a determined Laragh side.
Played in favourable weather conditions on Saturday evening last on the 3G, this was a game that had extra-time stamped all over it.
However, Mountnugent's success in plundering the only goal of the game made all the difference in tipping the spoils their direction.
In truth, if ever there was an instance of a goal being pivotal in deciding the outcome of a match, then Ciaran Caffrey's major midway through the second half was a supreme case in point.
The sides were deadlocked at 0-4 apiece and stalemate (0-6 to 0-6) was still the order of the day when Mountnugent's half-forward went for Laragh's jugular and duly hit the jackpot.
In what was the third meeting of the sides, Mountnugent went into last weekend's game seeking a hat-trick of victories over their Stradone-based opponents and their success in achieving their goal was fully deserved.
Though their win was well merited, Mountnugent had to dig deep to forge their place in the league final as Laragh constantly nipped away at their ankles and until they conceded the game's only goal, had genuine hopes of emerging victorious.
The winners-elect and newly-promoted outfit forced the pace for most of the first half and edged matters in the possession stakes without ever really looking like putting clear water between themselves and their opponents.
For every punch landed by Mountnugent, the losers-elect counter-punched with equal effect with Enda Cullivan and Ruairi Power both pointing to cancel out similar efforts from Liam Hennessy (two) inside the opening 14 minutes.
The first half continued to be a proverbial nip and tuck affair but Mountnugent seemed set to steal a march on their opponents when David Givney and Ciaran Caffrey (21) pointed to give the Meath-border side a useful two point advantage.
Laragh again circled the wagons and enjoyed much more possession in the second quarter and in the 25th minute, Ruairi Power cut his side's deficit to the minimum.
Laragh retained the momentum in the run up to the short whistle and Mountnugent were let off the hook somewhat when Declan King's shot screamed over, rather than under, the bar to tie the scores at 0-4 apiece.
The second half resembled a carbon copy of the opening moiety with each side enjoying just fleeting moments of dominancy before having their hands ripped from the tiller.
Adrian Cooney pointed on the double but his brace was sandwiched by a similar haul by Liam Hennessy as the teams shared 12 points with 40 minutes on the clock.
Then two minutes later, Mountnugent delivered a hammer blow to Laragh's hopes of a place in the league final with Ciaran Caffrey making good a brillant fetch and delivery by David Givney in the 42nd minute.
For the next six minutes, the exchanges in the last third circled around the respective point-scoring of Ruairi Power (Laragh) and David Givney with both in-form attackers adding two points to their individual tallies.
The ante was upped in the 54th minute when Paddy Rudden pointed to leave just two points between the sides only for Graham Patterson to extend Mountnugent's lead to three points once more.
To their credit, Laragh remained ever industrious with midfielder Colin Oates pushing his side forward at every instance.
Mountnugent were not for turning though and they battened up the hatches to prevent Laragh notching a match-saving goal at the death.
Mountnugent: Jonathan Givney; Kevin Plunkett, Joey Adams, Ronan Kearney; Charles Adams, Killian Fitzsimons, Thomas McCabe; David Givney (0-3), Graham Patterson (0-1); Ciaran Caffrey (1-1), Eurick Reilly, Reamonn Finnegan (0-1); Adrian Garry, Gerard Barkey, Liam Hennessy (0-3).
Subs: Adam Patterson for E Reilly; Darren Hennessy for G Barkey.
Laragh Utd: Martin Smith; Shane O'Rourke, Paddy King, Philip Fitzsimons; Liam Brady, Colm McKenna, Seamus Cooney; Declan Brady, Colin Oates; Paddy Rudden (0-1), Darragh Brady, Declan King (0-1); Ruairi Power (0-4), Enda Cullivan (0-1), Adrian Cooney (0-2).
Referee: Jimmy Galligan (Killygarry)
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