Mulligan, from Portlaoise, joined McNulty’s management team for 2012 but was taken ill during the league and hadn’t been involved with the team up until yesterday, when he stood with the side for the national anthem.
McNulty was quick to pay tribute to his colleague. He said: “That performance was for John Mulligan. John is fighting a serious illness and he came along today and was with the guys on the sideline for the national anthem. That was such a lift for the team.
“That man has had such a positive impact on so many Laois footballers down through the years. For him to be there supporting the team was such a massive lift, and the guys gave that performance for John Mulligan.”
The management and players drew stinging criticism in many quarters after the second-half collapse against Longford in May, and McNulty praised the spirit of his men.
He said: “The team deserves huge credit. I applaud them from the greatest heights for the character in that performance.”