Sunday 24 September 2017

Owen Mulligan slams Mickey Harte for lack of 'respect' over his Tyrone axing

Owen Mulligan
Owen Mulligan
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

OWEN MULLIGAN reckons that if he'd been on the Tyrone panel last season, they would have beaten Dublin in the Allianz League final.

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte brought Mulligan (31) back in for two challenge matches, but did not subsequently include him in his panel for 2013.

In his new autobiography 'Mugsy,' Mulligan reveals some bitterness that Harte never subsequently contacted him.

"If you worked for a company for 15 years and they told you they were replacing you with a younger employee, the least you'd expect would be a thank you and a handshake. That's all I wanted – a bit of respect," he reveals.

"I am not saying that if I had been there Tyrone would have won the All-Ireland title, definitely not, but would Mickey have another league title under his belt now if I'd been there to come off the bench? I think so," adds Mulligan.

"I think I could have got a score or bought a free in those closing minutes to win the game, because Tyrone should have won the game."

Mulligan says he felt he would have been able to play an impact sub role in 2013 because "I feel I am still better than some of the players who played that day.

"All the other lads I played with for so long left on their own terms," he claims.

"I wouldn't even have minded if Mickey had phoned me and said: 'Listen, Mugsy, you're not in my plans any more. It's time to hang them up.' I would have had my own views on that, but I would have accepted it.

"Maybe when the hurt goes away, I will be able to meet him and thank him for everything he's done for me," he admits. "He gave me the opportunity to play for Tyrone and I owe him a lot."

Mulligan remains insistent that Harte never coached his teams to play cynically, saying: "He always used to think that pulling a man down was lazy tackling."

But he does admit to doing some diving himself and indulging in some verbals.

"If you're stupid enough to put your arm in, I'm going to go down. A lot of them were fouls, but I made the most of it," he admits.

"Tyrone were successful at giving verbals because we could back it up," he adds. "My golden rule is, if you're not playing well, keep your mouth shut.

"I hardly ever started the verbals, but if someone said something to me, I'd go at it so hard that I'd usually end up getting a box on the back of the head. No one is telling me that if a man is slagging off your ma or your girlfriend that you're not going to slag him back."

The flying forward, who scored that famous goal against Dublin in 2005, reveals that, when the construction boom crashed, he was so mortified at having to draw the dole that he tried to disguise himself with a succession of hats and scarves. "I'd have worn a fake beard if I could, I was that embarrassed."

And he reveals that Tyrone regarded their arch-rivals Armagh as "a team of robots.

"We weren't a team of clones. We were individuals, we had characters and Mickey didn't mind us expressing ourselves. He respected that we were all different. We had personalities and we weren't afraid to show them."

Irish Independent

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