Monday 19 August 2019

Mulligan: London stars are good enough to be in the mix for any of the big counties

Owen Mulligan. Photo: Sportsfile
Owen Mulligan. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Owen Mulligan is regularly asked to compare his inter-county career with Tyrone and his short stint with the London footballers but he always insists "there wasn't much difference".

The pair may operate at opposite ends of the football spectrum, with the Red Hand in Division 1 of the League and the Exiles at the foot of Division 4, but he believes Ciarán Deely's men are heading in the right direction.

"It's a massive, massive set-up. People were asking me what was the difference between Tyrone and London and things like that. There wasn't much difference," Paddy Power GAA ambassador Mulligan said.

"Everyone wanted to win, everyone wanted to be there. It's a great place when you're buying into something like that and the lads were second to none, they were top fellas."

An increasingly positive trend in recent years in the English capital has been the number of homegrown players on the county squad. The three-time All-Ireland winner believes that is the key to their future.

"Boys are coming over from Ireland to work and then they're away next year but the London-based players are always going to be there, there's your foundation to drive on," he said.

"You've Killian Butler, he's absolutely brilliant. He would make it on any team over here. He's London-based and that's what you want. The captain, Liam Gavaghan, is another one.

"It's brilliant that you can promote GAA over there and it's going to take every team putting in a youth team. You see seven homegrown players that would get on most teams back home.

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"They're damn good players that would challenge any team in Ireland to get on. They've English accents but they're still following it massively.

"You see their Snapchat, see their social media activity, they're at the games back home in Croke Park or wherever it is, they're massive supporters. They wouldn't be playing if they weren't interested."

As manager of 2017 London SFC champions Fulham Irish, the 37-year-old sees the difficulties which they face with facilities every week, although Deely was lucky enough to have London train at the grounds of Championship soccer side Queens Park Rangers at various stages.

Mulligan, who works as a construction site manager in London but is currently opening a GAA bar in Liverpool, feels the task for the Exiles against Galway in tomorrow's Connacht SFC quarter-final in Ruislip will be a difficult one, however.

"It's a massive ask for London to beat Galway but even the last couple of years, they've been beat but they've put good League performances in," Mulligan concluded.

"They've put a couple of good wins together and you just never know on the day. But, it's a different animal when Galway are coming to town. I seen them last year and in the League. Galway are flying so it's a massive ask for London."

Some have questioned the participation of London and New York in the Connacht SFC, but Mulligan values their place in the competition.

"I've no problem with that, I never have. You get the staunch Irish man, 'not a chance'. But I've no problem with that if they think they can compete, which they definitely can."

Irish Independent

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