Mulligan's Cookstown shatter Finuge dream
The great Tyrone-Kerry rivalry was given renewed vigour at Croke Park as Owen Mulligan's Cookstown Father Rocks produced a dogged display to overcome a 13-man Finuge side featuring multiple All-Ireland winners Paul Galvin and Eamonn Fitzmaurice.
Although he already has an extraordinary haul of medals, Mulligan ranks leading his parish to All-Ireland glory as one of his finest moments.
"I've walked up there with county players and county teams, but to lead your best mates up the stairs there in Croke Park is a different sort of a feeling," the Cookstown skipper and full-forward said.
"I was lucky to be in the panel and in the squad that won it in 2009, but as captain, to be given that honour, is something that's really special."
The match proved to be a rather cagey affair.
A brace of points from Mulligan, along with a point each from Shea McGarrity, Jason Quinn and half-back Martin Hughes, gave the Tyrone men a three-point advantage after 18 minutes before two points from Kingdom manager Fitzmaurice – in his final club game – reduced the arrears to one in time for the interval – 0-5 to 0-4.
Cookstown were far sharper upon the resumption, though, and corner-forward James McGahan's 38th-minute goal edged the Ulster side into a five-point cushion.
Galvin managed to narrow the gap with a free 13 minutes from time, but Finuge's hand had been reduced following dismissals for Maurice Corridan and Pat Corridan and, with Mulligan and John Gilmore adding further scores, Cookstown were able to close out the game with few serious alarms.
Reflecting on where the game was won and lost, Mulligan accepted that the red cards issued to Finuge were vital, but also felt the appearance of former All-Star nominee Raymond Mulgrew from the bench was a major factor.
"When Raymond Mulgrew comes on the field you sense panic coming through, and it happened with the Kerry boys," Mulligan said.
"They didn't know who to mark. They were a bit unsettled.
"That was a tight game, I think if 15 had stayed on the field it would have been a lot tighter.
"I didn't see the incidents and what happened, but we'll take a win every day of the week," a delighted Mulligan added.
Scorers – Cookstown Fr. Rocks: J Quinn 0-3, E Mulligan (2f) 0-3 each, J McGahan 1-0, M Hughes, S Garrity, J Gilmore 0-1 each. Finuge: E Fitzmaurice 0-2 (1f), Paul Galvin (f), P Corridan, J Griffin, J Flaherty 0-1 each.
COOKSTOWN FR ROCKS – M Rea; P McGurk, S Monaghan, S McGarrity; R Pickering, M Murray, M Hughes; C Mullan, C O'Hare; J Quinn, B Hughes, B Mulligan; J Gilmore, O Mulligan, J McGahan. Subs: R Mulgrew for O'Hare (29), D Hughes for McGurk (30+2), B Mulligan for Mullan (35), R Mullan for McGarrity (38), P Kelly for B Mulligan (51).
FINUGE – C Fitzmaurice; C Allen, T McKenna, D McCarthy; Paudie Galvin, P Corridan, C Fitzmaurice; M Corridan, P Galvin; Raymond Galvin, J Griffin, S Power; M Conway, E Fitzmaurice, J Flaherty. Subs: R Heffernan for Power (36), K Roche for Paudie Galvin (54), J Corridan for Conway (54), J McCarthy for Flaherty (54).
REF – F Kelly (Longford).