Tyrone have never won back-to-back Ulster Championship titles since Mickey Harte took over as manager in 2003.
But that could change over the course of the next few weeks, according to Owen Mulligan.
The cultured forward, part of the fabric of the Red Hands attack since Harte assumed command, scored a typically spectacular goal that proved instrumental in condemning Antrim to defeat on Sunday and now, having already collected one significant honour, he’s hoping to make 2010 a particularly memorable year.
Mulligan played a leading role when Cookstown landed the All Ireland Intermediate Club title for the first time in February and even though he has three All Ireland senior county medals in his locker he is particularly hungry to see Tyrone remain as the dominant force in the province.
“We have won three Ulster crowns under Mickey but it would be nice to win back-to-back honours — that would mean a lot to us. Obviously Armagh have tended to dominate in Ulster over the past 10 years or so but there is a challenge there for us,” he observes.
And he believes he has pinpointed precisely why the Red Hands can hold onto their crown this year.
“I think that we have a depth of talent on our bench which will prove a big help to us,” asserts Mulligan. “The competition for places is fiercer now and I believe that this will help bring the best out of what are regarded as the established players. You certainly can take nothing for granted in terms of selection.”
When Harte introduced Sean O’Neill, Tommy McGuigan, Cathal McCarron, Peter Harte and Brian McGuigan in the closing stages against Antrim they all stepped up to the plate to help the side withstand the Saffrons’ late assault.
Now Mulligan contends that these and other players will be jostling for starting places in the semi-final against Down or Donegal on Saturday, June 19.
“I think that everyone will be kept on their toes,” he added. “I know people have been saying that this Tyrone team is getting old but there is a good blend in the side still. The fact that we have this win over Antrim under our belts gives us further encouragement and I believe that we could now prove to be more difficult to beat.”