COOKSTOWN’s captain marvel, Owen Mulligan is expecting the mother of all battles when his side meets Paul Galvin’s Finuge in the All-Ireland Intermediate Club final at Croke Park on Saturday.
The Tyrone star has had many battles against Kerry in the red and white of his county, and knows that to raise the cup at Croke Park will take monumental effort from his teammates.
But for Mulligan it is all about the Fr. Rocks men’s minset on the day.
“We are building something at Cookstown,” he said at a special press conference at Paddy Cullen Park on Sunday. “John McKeever came in at the start of the season and told us that we would get to an All-Ireland final again. We kind of laughed at him because we didn’t think we had the players at that time. But he instilled belief in us.
“To get through Tyrone and Ulster we have relied on that self-belief. It has been a heck of a run. We could have been put out a number of times but we had a wee bit of luck; I feel we’ve made our own luck by grinding out results.
“It is that bit more special to be captain. I suppose I’d like to see anyone from this club lifting the trophy, but it just makes it that little bit extra-special. I’m lucky to have a number of leaders around me; Ryan Pickering, Shea McGarrity and Marty Murray, they’ve been absolutely outstanding all year and it makes it so easy.
“We’ve pulled together as a team and as a club. People talk about this being a family club and it really is. If you want a bit of advice you can go to one of the senior players. We’ve got Mulligans and Kellys and Gilmores and Hughes and that makes this group closer and every man will give his best. Hopefully that will be enough to do the business.”
Finuge are former Junior Championship winners but, unlike the Cookstown team, have never been to Croke Park, something Mugsy thinks will put his men in the driving seat.
“The first year you win it, well you never forget it but this is Croke Park and I want to lead these lads up those steps and get the cup. Hopefully we can all pull together and do that.
“This Kerry team, Finuge are going to make it tough. We were lucky enough to play another Kingdom team, Spa, last time around. I know this - you are not going to play anyone bad from Kerry, and that’s just the way it is. When you play a team from there you raise your game.
“They talk about Paul Galvin being in this team but I am sure that the fourteen other boys will want nothing more than to beat this team from Tyrone.”
Mugsy and his team are going down to Dublin today (Tuesday) to get a feel for the atmosphere and the sheer size of the stadium.
“Preparations have been second-to-none and that is down to John (McKeever) again. He has given us self-belief and a far more professional outlook which has helped us immensely.
“I know this - it is going to be one hell of a battle, but hopefully we can come out on the right side of the result.”