How the boots that shook Croke Park went to highest bidder for £30,000

Owen Mulligan (Tyrone), Adidas Predator. 2005 All-Ireland quarter-final v Dublin.
How the boots that shook Croke Park went to highest bidder for £30,000
Photo: INPHO/ Tom Honan

Owen Mulligan (Tyrone), Adidas Predator. 2005 All-Ireland quarter-final v Dublin.

“I was always a massive Adidas Predator fan. When I asked my mother and father for a pair of boots I was told I’d have to work for them. The year Predator came out they were £90 and I remember asking my father could I have the money and he said, ‘Would you catch yourself on? It’s not the boots, it’s the man inside them.’

“I never wore coloured boots. I got a bit of stick with the blonde hair but I always felt the black boots were the way to go. So when Adidas approached a few of us players — Steven McDonnell, Paul Galvin, Conor Mortimer and a load of hurling men — it was absolutely amazing.

“You could ring them, order a pair of boots and there you would have them two weeks before a game. A boy would come in a wee moped and deliver them.

“I was still wearing the Predators when I scored the goal but by that time the deal had elapsed. So before the All-Ireland final against Kerry, Nike came for five of us — me, Brian Dooher, Peter Canavan, Philly Jordan I think and somebody else. Seán Cavanagh was with Puma. They offered serious dough for us to wear them.

“I kept the Adidas boots and two years later auctioned them in a fundraiser for the club, Cookstown Fr Rocks. The club grounds needed updating and I was asked if I would put up a jersey. I said no because jerseys would be very sentimental to me, especially from the finals. I offered the boots instead and they jumped at that. There was a gala dinner in Armagh and I think they sold 300 or 400 tickets. I know a lot of people couldn’t get in because it was sold out. Everybody wanted to go. Adrian Logan did the compere and I would have been happy if they fetched £2,000 or £3,000 but the number just kept going up and up.

“Raymond Mulgrew and myself had been playing against Fermanagh in the league that night up in Healy Park so we headed straight to Armagh and the auction took place about half an hour after we arrived. The boots were last up and bidding started in the hundreds and then they started to go to the thousands. Joe McKernan, who only passed away last Friday, was a great, big Tyrone and Cookstown man and he was bidding on them. Barney Eastwood, being from Cookstown too, started the ball rolling and he kept nodding his head. It started to go up in £2,000s and I was thinking, ‘What the fuck?’ Personally, I was thinking it was going too high but if it was helping the club then all well and good.

“It ended up going to £30,000 and Barney passed away recently too and I’m very grateful for him for helping the club like that. It was an absolutely crazy night, we raised £90,000. Everybody pulled together and we talked about it for years to come. The facilities in Cookstown now are second to none and every time I walk through the gates I get satisfaction from knowing I contributed and I’m proud of it.”

Interview: John Fogarty

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