Owen Mulligan has stoked the flames of the sometimes bitter Tyrone-Kerry rivalry in his newly-released autobiography, Mugsy — My Story.
The Cookstown man speaks of how both Kerry and Finuge players indulged in sectarian abuse in the 2008 All-Ireland final and this year’s All-Ireland Club intermediate final.
He also mocks Paul Galvin for “crying like a baby” after Kerry’s qualifier win over Tyrone in Killarney last year, while he questioned that the 2009 footballer of the year was spat on in last February’s club game. Mulligan described Kerry’s 2004 All-Ireland win as “very soft” and admits the disdain between the camps when they both were in their pomp.
“Some of our boys couldn’t stand the Kerry lads and it was obvious Jack O’Connor disliked us as well, you could see it in his face every time we played them.”
After coming on as a sub in the 2008 All-Ireland final, he claims he was subjected to sectarian abuse.
“Some of the Kerry lads’ line of patter wasn’t very original. They, and some of the Dublin players, were big into calling us ‘British c***s’ or ‘Orange b******s’.
“It used to annoy some lads, but not me.
“I mean, so what? I’d get far more annoyed if someone insulted my ma. There was never the remotest chance of us losing to Kerry in 2003 and 2005 because we were way better than them and had far better footballers.
“But, in the 2008 final, we could have been beaten. We needed a bit of luck and we got it.”
He recalls how he dismissed Galvin during the Cookstown-Finuge final when the Kerry forward told him he had been spat on and again accuses Finuge players of making incendiary comments.
When footage of the game on YouTube surfaced indicating Galvin had been spat on by a Cookstown player and he retweeted a link to it on Twitter, Mulligan felt he had to take a stand as club captain and released a statement.
Shortly after that, Mulligan received a phone call from Peter Canavan who had been contacted by Galvin. “That pissed me off for a start. Why is he ringing Canavan? I fumed. Canavan has nothing to do with Cookstown. He should have phoned me.
“Galvin wanted Canavan to act as a go-between but I wasn’t having that. I got his number from Canavan and texted him. ‘Paul, it’s Mugsy here. Are you ok to talk?’
“He texted back that he would take my call, so I phoned him. ‘I was very disappointed with your comments,’ he told me quickly enough. ‘Are you going to take them back?’ ‘Not one bit, Paul. I’m defending my club and a player on my team.’ ‘I was spat on,’ he said. ‘Your club knows it and your county knows it. What would you do?’ ‘I don’t want to fall out with you,’ I replied. ‘I have respect for you and your club, but this is being built up as a whole Tyrone v Kerry row and it’s getting out of hand.’
He agreed he didn’t want the bad publicity either.”
Mulligan doesn’t know whether Galvin is speaking to him or not but would like to draw a line under their differences.
“I have a lot of respect for most of the Kerry lads, including him. He is a class player and he’s got rough treatment over the years. Of course, he is no angel at times but he is hard done by, too.”
Mugsy — My Story, co-written by Orla Bannon, is published by Irish Sports Publishing Ltd and is priced at €15.99
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