In an era before #NewbridgeOfNowhere, Leitrim provided the shock of the qualifiers thus far in battering Louth at Carrick-on-Shannon, kicking 21 points from play in a 0-25 to 1-12 win. Six of those points were kicked by Emlyn Mulligan, who joined us on this week's edition of the So-Called Weaker Podcast.
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Mulligan has been trooping with Leitrim since 2008, and has bounced back from three cruciate ligament injuries to play an integral role in what proved to be his county's third-ever win in the qualifiers. Hence, victories like Saturday's taste sweet. "It is great. I’ve been in the championship since 2008, since then - if you take London and New York out of the equation - we've beaten Sligo once in the Connacht championship and since that we’ve had three qualifier wins.It’s not a massive return for the effort you are putting in, but to get a win like that against Louth...it makes your week a lot easier; going into work on Monday morning, it puts a pep in your step".
In spite of such sterling service, Mulligan still bears the whips and scorns of defeats of the past, and while Mulligan basked in the victory against Louth, he opened up on the level of flak he has taken online over his decade with Leitrim.
We have great fans, but sometimes people can be very critical, and they don’t always understand the resources we are working with. Especially against Roscommon, there were some expecting us to beat them.
But at the end of the day, we have no given right to be competing with Roscommon, given their resources and the level they are playing at. There was a great crowd at the weekend, and that’s great for a week, but depending on how things go this weekend, some of them will still be stabbing you in the back and saying how pathetic and brutal you are if you get beaten out the gate next Saturday.
But that’s part and parcel of it, it is going on in every county. Because you are in a small county you probably hear more of it.
Being a senior member of the team, I like to take more of that criticism on board than leaving it to the young lads.
Mulligan revealed that he has faced vituperative abuse across his intercounty career.
This year hasn’t been too bad but over the years I’ve been subject to a lot of social media abuse. There was an incident a few year ago when we got rid of lads for drinking, I stood up for management and I took a lot of abuse: there were pages set up about me and my family.
It was very personal and it did affect me at the time. I give everything for Leitrim, I’ve come back from injury after injury, I’m there to the last game of the year, I don’t really go away when things aren’t going well.
So the last thing you want are people criticising you for giving everything to your county. I’ve grown to live with it, but it’s about trying to change people’s mindset. It’s not right for people to go on to Twitter and Facebook and start slating people with no punishment for it. It’s too easy to do it on social media.
Evidently, such abuse is not reserved for the players at the top of the sport, but Mulligan is unsure as to what can be done to stamp it out.
It’s very hard to control it. Everyone is an individual and can ultimately do what they want on it. I read stuff about other players in Division One and Two, the likes of Aidan O’Shea: the stuff you read about them is horrible. At the end of the day these guys are amateurs, and some might think they don’t see these things but I assure you that they do.
Especially in our circumstances, when you do get a hammering like we did against Roscommon, you are nearly afraid to step outside of the house for a week or two.
You are in your own place of depression so to speak as it is, and people think they can say anything they want to a county footballer. Maybe county footballers accept it, but it is very hard to stamp out.
Listen to the full interview on the podcast.