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Dublin: 10°C Saturday 17 April 2021

Emlyn Mulligan: Leitrim 'needed' the win more than New York

Mulligan didn’t subscribe to the view that it would have been better for football if the Exiles were victorious.

EXPERIENCED LEITRIM ATTACKER Emlyn Mulligan said it was far more important for them than New York to win Sunday’s gripping Connacht SFC clash in the Bronx.

Jamie Clarke with Emlyn Mulligan and Darragh Rooney Jamie Clarke with Darragh Rooney and Emlyn Mulligan Source: Andy Marlin/INPHO

The 30-year old said he fully appreciated that 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.

“It’s hard on them but it’s important for us and we needed that more than they did,” he said.

“People were saying all week it’ll be great for New York but I don’t see that to be honest.

“We have green and gold blood running through us every one of us and no disrespect to New York them lads but some of them are over here for the summer on holiday visas and they don’t have the same passion we do.

“I think our young lads 19 and 20-year-olds needed that and the whole county of Leitrim needed it because it would have been a big setback for us I think had we lost us,” added Mulligan.

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 left.

Diarmuid McKiernan celebrates after the game Source: Andy Marlin/INPHO

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 kind of thought it was gone from us and I was waiting for the whistle and it didn’t know how long was left.

“But when we got the one back and there was two in it I thought maybe here is 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.

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“And it fairness to Noel he made the space. No disrespect to Noel he wouldn’t kick too many and we’d normally be telling Noel 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, he struck through the ball lovely and the feeling when that went over it’s 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 just 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.

A general view of Gaelic Park during the game Source: Andy Marlin/INPHO

“It’s great to be back. I started off well and kicked a few good scores and getting stiff on that ground doesn’t help the knee at all fairness. I’m just delighted. I had a tough time for most of the year there and to be able to finish out 90 minutes of football on a tough championship day.

“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.

“We didn’t panic against New York but in the first half we knew that they’d come at us, there were two great goal and in fairness we kicked a few good scores that kept us in the game. maybe we should have been more up at half-time.

But in the second half they came out the blocks quicker again and it was back and forth and we finished up very strong. In extra time we probably had five chances to go ahead and they came down and kicked two,” he added.

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John Fallon

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