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Ulster Championship Final: Tyrone forward Mulligan’s treble chance

Eoin Mulligan is gearing up to complete the second leg of what he hopes will prove a major personal triple coup this year.

It was back in February that the 28-year-old joiner shared in All Ireland intermediate club glory with Cookstown Fr Rocks, his cultured finishing skills underlining the team’s superb triumph.

Now as he strives to capture what would be his fourth Ulster championship gong when he lines out for Tyrone against Monaghan on Sunday in the provincial final he is hoping that this will prove the prelude to a fourth Sam Maguire Cup success for the O’Neill County — and that would mean a treble medal haul for him this term.

But the softly-spoken Mulligan — now famous for his trademark goals in high-pressure contests — is keeping his total focus on Monaghan’s challenge for the moment.

An integral part of the Red Hands attacking machinery for eight years, he still epitomises the hunger and drive that have helped to keep Mickey Harte’s side on the glory route.

And while he was more than happy to blaze home the goal that effectively crushed Antrim’s resistance in Tyrone’s opening championship tie before he went on prove a creative cog against Down in the semi-final, Mulligan is keeping his fingers crossed that he can produce his best form against a Monaghan defence that he rates as “top notch.”

The Cookstown ace is certain to come in for close attention from the Farney rearguard but that does not bother him unduly.

“Monaghan are in the final on merit and they will be very difficult opponents for us,” maintains Mulligan.

“They have shown a great hunger and although we might not have been as convincing to date nevertheless we have belief in our ability and we also feel we have the experience necessary to cope with the demands of the occasion.”

His work-rate, passing and marksmanship have kept him up among Ulster’s elite in recent years but Mulligan is quick to emphasise the team ethic which has governed Tyrone’s progress since 2003.

“While I obviously enjoy getting scores at the end of the day it does not matter who puts them away as long as the team wins,” insists Mulligan. “Mickey Harte wants players from every area of the field to be able to score and this shows just how important it is that we take our chances.

“Maybe we have been slow starters in the championship this year but Tyrone have a lot more left in the tank.”

Win or lose in the Ulster final, he promises that Harte’s men will still target the Sam Maguire Cup.

“We would have to play a qualifying game but we will live with that,” he said. “We had to go through the qualifiers in 2005 and played ten games in winning the All Ireland title so we won’t worry this year if we have to compete in the concluding stages of the qualifiers,” adds Mulligan.

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Tyrone have made four changes for Sunday’s Ulster senior football decider against Monaghan in Clones.

Davy Harte returns to the half back line in place of Errigal Ciaran clubman Peter Harte with Ryan McMenamin coming in for Dermot Carlin in the full back line.

Tommy McGuigan is included at full forward in place of the injured Stephen O’Neill while Cathal McCarron takes over from the injured Martin Swift.

TYRONE: P McConnell, C McCarron, Justin McMahon, R McMenamin, D Harte, C Gormley, P Jordan, C Cavanagh, K Hughes, B Dooher, S Cavanagh, Joe McMahon, M Penrose, T McGuigan, O Mulligan.

Belfast Telegraph

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