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No more going through the motions, this will be proper do-or-die football

Joe Brolly


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Mattie Donnelly is looking forward to playing in his first senior inter-county knockout championship. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Mattie Donnelly is looking forward to playing in his first senior inter-county knockout championship. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Mattie Donnelly is looking forward to playing in his first senior inter-county knockout championship. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

It was the summer of 2005. I was walking through the tunnel beneath Croke Park, past the dressing rooms and out through the coach exit, exhilarated by what I had just seen, when there he was, standing big in the evening sun, bleached blond hair, looking left and right.

It was Owen Mulligan and the big man was standing alone. Restless. He saw me and came over. "You were great today," I said to him. He said "Never worry about that. Is there anywhere we can go for a quiet pint?" "Owen," I said, "you look like Sid Vicious, you've just scored the greatest goal ever seen at Croke Park. Your days of quiet pints are over." Quiet pint maybe. Not pints.

Owen used to, as he put it "go on the beer" every now and again, and one of his go-to excuses on those occasions was that his grandmother had died. From the bar one night, he rang Mickey Harte. "Mickey, I can't make training tonight, my granny has died." There was silence. Mickey said "I thought she died last year." Owen said "That was my other granny."