Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Declan Bogue: Mulligan should be given his moment

It's a pity that, in what should have been one of his proudest moments, that Cookstown captain Owen Mulligan should have to answer the predictable questions on his future as a Tyrone player.

It was the hunt for a headline, the chance to create a potential story. In the context of Mulligan — one of the last remaining vestiges of Mickey Harte's first great Tyrone team — it was understandable.

His flair play was a joy to behold on the biggest stage and in the highlight reel of the last decade of Tyrone football he would provide a healthy chunk of clips. His wonder goal, when he dummied half the Dublin defence before roofing his shot in the net in the 2005 quarter-final, will always be considered in any ‘goal of the decade' debate. Staring down Hill 16 was another moment of levity, as was his smile and his quip of ‘I don't mind' when Peter Canavan strode purposefully over for that pressure free in the closing seconds of the All-Ireland semi against Armagh.

If Owen Mulligan is not going to play for Tyrone any more, then it is clearly a story. What was slightly disappointing though was the lack of comment on his win with the club.

Since the introduction of the Junior and Intermediate All-Ireland club series we have watched great players taste a moment of victory alongside the players they grew up with.

Such as former Tyrone midfielder Feargal Logan, who got an Ulster title with Stewartstown in 2004. Or the incoming Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice being part of Finuge's journey to the Munster Intermediate title a few weeks ago.

Moments like these are for the club and by the club. Trivialising them as hitching posts when a player can be asked about his future in county football slightly demeans them.

Cookstown go ahead into an All-Ireland series, as they seek to win back a title they last won in 2010, with victory over Kerry club Spa. Mulligan will captain the team and presumably be giving them his full focus.

Hopefully, for the sake of Mulligan and his team-mates, their journey will not be accompanied by speculation on his future.

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