Cork City’s double-winning goalkeeper Mark McNulty claims he “fed off” the abuse he received from Dundalk fans during this month’s FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium.
McNulty — who has been named the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Month for November — found himself at the centre of a social media storm in the build-up to the decider when footage emerged of him leading a group of fans in a chant of “Fuck the Lilywhites”, as John Caulfield’s side celebrated their SSE Airtricity League title win.
Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny was furious with McNulty’s behaviour which he described as being “out of the gutter”.
The goalkeeper’s comments added extra spice to the Cup showdown and he admitted to keeping a low profile on social media in the week prior to the cup final.
“To be fair, as it was going on I was at home and my wife was saying: ‘Mark, stay off social media, don’t take any notice of it’.
“I know if I went onto it and started reading, it probably would drive me mad. John (Caulfield) said to me to stay away from social media and ‘don’t let it get into your head’.
“That’s what they probably wanted — to get in my head. So I stayed away from social media for the week.”
As for the match itself, McNulty showed no ill-effects of the additional pressure which his comments had brought — indeed he proved instrumental in City’s win, saving Dundalk’s fourth penalty, with Kieran Sadlier firing home the winner moments later.
“I went out onto the pitch and had Dundalk fans roaring at me, which is part of football.
“I don’t mind that. I fed off that. I loved it, every bit of it.
“They can keep throwing me abuse and keep giving me grief because I think the more I get, the better I get.
“It was enjoyable, because of the way it ended, us winning the cup final in front of the Dundalk end, that made it that little bit sweeter for me.”
McNulty said winning the double has increased the profile of City — and its players — on Leeside this season.
“There seems to be a lot more people chatting to you about football. There mightn’t have been as many before. Everyone wants to chat about the success we’ve had this year.
"I suppose it won’t be maybe until I retire that it will sink in that we are the first team in Cork City’s history to do the double.
"It’s a huge thing but because I’m still a player I enjoyed the few days that we had after the Cup final and then it was just about getting back to normal, being a family man and getting on with things.”
One of the things which is high on McNulty’s agenda is planning for a life after he hangs up his boots.
“I’m down doing my Uefa B badge at the moment in Fota. The season is over but I’m still involved in football doing my Uefa B badge. Hopefully I’ll get this done by next season and then push on and do my Goalkeeping A badge. When I do retire I want to get into the coaching side of things.”
But that career step isn’t on the immediate horizon.
“There’s no sign of retirement,” he insisted. “John and myself have been discussing this for a while. John must be quite happy with the way I’m performing and the way things are going for us. I feel fit. I don’t feel old, I don’t struggle to get up in the morning to go training. I’d like to think I’m one of the fittest lads still in the squad.
“As long as my fitness is good and as long as my form is still good, I’ll continue playing. Whether that is 39 or 41, it doesn’t bother me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s down to form and if I keep performing hopefully I can keep getting contracts.
“John has been building this team over the last three or four years and to see the success we’ve had in the season just gone, hopefully by keeping those players and adding the strong signings, it will make us better.
“I can’t see any reason why, with the signings John has made, we won’t be up there challenging again.”
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