The 26-year-old garda, who skippered Leitrim to back-to-back FBD League titles in 2013 and ‘14, has been granted a career break in 2015 and will plans to spend the year travelling.
“I’m heading off in February. The opportunity came up in work to take a bit of a career break, so I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance to do it again,” said the former Melvin Gaels clubman who played his club football in Dublin with St Brigid’s the last two seasons.
“It probably came at the right time too. It is no harm to get a bit of a break from competitive football. Over the years I have put so much into football. The saying goes that ‘you get out of it what you put into it’ and to be honest I don’t really feel that. I’ve been putting a lot into the game and not getting much out of it. The last few games with Leitrim in the qualifiers and even in the championship against Roscommon, it was very frustrating. You lose the hunger for it a wee bit when you are being beaten by nine or 10 points and you question the whole thing.
Mulligan has long been Leitrim’s key forward and proved an inspirational captain in Barney Breen and George Dugdale’s last season and Sean Hagan’s sole year in charge last year.
But despite speaking with both Hagan and new Leitrim boss Shane Ward, Mulligan says his mind was made up to step back from the game.
“I told the new manager my plans, and it wasn’t really up for negotiations. My decision was made and I had the flights and everything booked. I said it to Sean Hagan I was thinking about it last year so he knew the story. It is what it is. But I hope Shane comes in and gets a good structure in place and gets all the boys rallying behind him.”
Mulligan explained his reasoning: “You get into a bit of a bubble playing county football and it’s all you think about yourself. But I have a girlfriend for a few years now and it’s a chance for her to do some travelling too. I can’t be holding her back for the rest of her life every evening when I am out training and weekends at games.
“It’s a huge sacrifice for families too so it is a mutual decision,” he said.