Experienced Leitrim attacker Emlyn Mulligan insists it was more important for them than New York to win Sunday’s gripping Connacht SFC tie.
The 30-year old accepts a New York win would give a huge boost to the sport in the United States but he didn’t subscribe to the view that it would be better for Connacht — or football in general — if the Exiles were victorious in the Bronx.
After an extra-time epic in the Big Apple, Mulligan and company emerged with a 0-19 to 1-15 win.
“It’s hard on them but it’s important for us and we needed that more than they did,” reasoned Mulligan.
“People were saying all week it would be great for New York (if they won) but I don’t see it like that.
“I think our young lads needed that and the whole county of Leitrim needed it. It would have been a big setback had we lost.”
The 30-year old, who has battled back from a third cruciate operation, feared they would become the first side to lose to New York in 20 meetings when they trailed by three points with five minutes of extra-time remaining.
But Brendan Guckian’s men came with a late flurry, got level in the final minute before defender Noel Plunkett kicked the winner in stoppage time to seal a 0-19 to 1-15 win.
“I thought it was gone from us and I was waiting for the whistle and I didn’t know how long was left.
“But when we got the one back and there was two in it, I thought there was a chance.
“We had a goal chance when we could have finished it off before that but it was great to get the draw at that stage.
“No disrespect to Noel he wouldn’t kick too many and we normally would be telling him to lay it off to a shooter!
“In fairness, he had the legs and that was important at that stage because he came on as a sub and he was a bit fresher than a lot of us. But I had full confidence in him and the feeling when that went over is hard to describe.
“Every game we play in the Connacht championship is like an All-Ireland final to us,” he added.
Mulligan said it was brilliant to be back playing championship football after recovering from his third cruciate operation and now he is looking forward to a Connacht semi-final meeting with Roscommon.
“It’s great to be back. I had a tough time for most of the year and to be able to finish out 90 minutes of football on a tough championship day is great. Sometimes you have to give yourself a pat on the back and this time last year I was over in London not playing and disappointed. The aim was once I got injured was to come back here and play championship football again.”
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