Former All-Star Owen Mulligan, reflects on last weekend’s demolition of Cork and says the clocks ticking for Armagh’s Kieran McGeeney, who needs to focus on winning games, not rants. He also sticks the boot into the GAA for their “crazy” decision to schedule the Galway vs Kerry match to clash with the biggest sporting event on the plant this Sunday.
Paddy Power News : Towards the latter days of your career Cork were arguably the best team in the country and they now look to have hit rock bottom following another hammering. What are your thoughts on a county with the size and tradition of Cork being so poor?
OM: When I was playing them, they had the likes of Canty, O’Leary and Shields, they were match winners – proud Cork men, proud to put on the jersey. It seems to me that the hurling has taken over. All the focus is on the small ball.
They got absolutely smashed by Kerry by 17 points. After a result like that you’d expect some response. But they go out and lose by 16 to Tyrone. They really should be embarrassed. The whole set-up should be embarrassed, not just the team.
But a manager can only do so much. I thought the players looked as though they didn’t want to be there, they looked lethargic, there were no leaders in the team, absolutely zero self-belief. We’re used to Cork having swagger, they’re widely known for it, but there was none of that there. They looked a beaten docket as soon as they came out.
The Sunday Game referenced the ease with which Tyrone could cut through their defence, was that apparent to you watching the game?
Did you see Conor McAliskey’s goal? I never seen anything like it, he was allowed to buzz in without anyone touching him, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. They were in the game for the first 10 minutes and had two goal chances but then they did nothing. It was nothing short of a disgrace.
There were no hands, there were no shoulder tackles, there was no body contact, they looked like a bunch of footballers who just wanted to get the game over with and go on the beer.
As for Tyrone, are they better now having gone through the qualifiers than they were at the start of the Ulster Championship?
The Cork game won’t bring them on one bit ahead of playing in the super 8s. Roscommon have been in some great battles, again the last 10 minutes against Galway could’ve gone either way and the last 10 minutes against Armagh their big players really came through. They’ll be ready and I think it’ll be a very tough game for Tyrone. We won’t be able to waltz through the middle like Cork allowed us.
I like McStay’s game plan he’s very direct, he gets the ball into the forwards who are allowed to express themselves. Alright they might be a bit leaky at the back but that’s the game he plays, he obviously trusts his defence. It’ll be a tough game but I still fancy Tyrone to pick up the win.
Looking at Armagh, has this been a good year for them?
You go on to social media and you see people saying “great year” and “well done” and I’m saying to myself ‘am I missing something here?’ There’s no trophy on the table, there’s no silverware in the cabinet. I think Armagh are still living off that 2002 All-Ireland team and the glory days of 6 Ulster titles.
McGeeney’s coming in there and he’s trying to rebuild and then he comes out and gives off about pundits and journalists. I think these people are entitled to their opinions and they’re entitled to slate him, he hasn’t produced what Armagh fans want, he hasn’t put anything on the table, he hasn’t won Championship games, they were put out by Fermanagh this year!
They went through the back door and they’re very good at qualifiers but they’re missing something in Ulster and Armagh people want to see their team back in Ulster finals and back competing for silverware. The league campaign wasn’t bad but he’s been there for years now and it’s a big ask to turn things around. He stayed at Kildare for a long time and he only won a division 2 title with Kildare. At the end of the day how many years are Armagh going to give him if he doesn’t deliver trophies?
McGeeney made some extraordinary headlines with his comments on pundits this week. Does he pay too much attention to them?
I think he takes it personally, far too personally. To come out and say what he did made him look like a man who was under pressure who had finally hit boiling point. At the end of the day he’s Armagh through and through and he’s always going to come out and back everyone up.
I think he just exploded and that he’s really regretting it. To come out with that rant was surreal but it seems like after every beating he does something like this. It’s made headlines for all the wrong reasons and if he could concentrate on winning games instead of giving out rants he’d be in a far better place.
You’re a big soccer fan, what are your thoughts on scheduling Galway vs Kerry to clash with the World Cup final?
Croke Park baffle me at times. You couldn’t play matches in Croke Park because of a Buble concert and now we have games clashing with the biggest sporting event on the planet. It’s absolutely crazy.
It’s common sense that if there are big matches going on elsewhere to move a fixture. It’s a major sporting event and the GAA can’t even organise it to accommodate fans who want to watch both. It’s crazy but there’s nothing we can do unfortunately. Just crazy.