The proliferation of goals in the All Ireland football championship to date will provide the perfect spur for Owen Mulligan to add to his already impressive tally when he lines out for Tyrone against Cork in Sunday week’s semi-final.
Mulligan has scored some fine goals for the Red Hands since coming into the side seven years ago — notably that spectacular effort against Dublin in 2005 — as well as providing some telling assists, the most crucial of which was his touch to Peter Canavan that led to the goal which broke Kerry’s hearts that same year.
Now Mulligan, currently playing some of the best football of his career, is hoping to hit the net against Cork — but is quick to acknowledge that the Leesiders’ defence is one of the most effective units in the country.
Cork did not concede a goal to Kerry when the teams met twice in the Munster championship and although they ‘gifted’ two to Donegal in their one-sided All Ireland quarter-final win, the match was over as a contest long before substitute Stephen Griffin buried the losers’ second.
“Cork normally give very little away and when you look at players like Graham Canty, Anthony Lynch and Michael Shields in there you can understand why,” points out Mulligan.
The Cookstown clubman is certain to form a two-man full-forward line along with the in-form Stephen O’Neill against Conor Counihan’s side and while Tyrone would certainly relish bagging one or more goals, manager Mickey Harte has made it clear that the accumulation of points will be just as important.
“There has been some exceptionally high scoring in recent matches and while some people will point to what they see as less than efficient defending, I prefer to think that this has come about because of the very high quality of finishing.
“There have been some tremendous scoring feats and I think that these have enhanced the championship,” maintains Harte.
Tyrone have scored only one goal in their last three games — against Antrim in the Ulster final — and that’s a ratio that their manager would like to see improved. But, like ace finisher Mul
ligan, he will happily settle for victory irrespective of how it arrives.
“As long as we have more scores on the board than Cork at the final whistle,” smiles Harte.