Mulligan hoping for more days in the sun10/06/2011 - 16:10:30
Leitrim forward Emlyn Mulligan is confident that his side can qualify for their first Connacht SFC final since 2000 when they face Roscommon at Carrick-on-Shannon this Sunday. It has been a long quest for Leitrim's scorer-in-chief - not just in his hopes of securing a provincial medal, but indeed winning a Connacht Championship encounter. The county's recent quarter-final victory over Sligo was only Mulligan's second Championship success in a Leitrim jersey since his debut in 2008 when they beat New York by 0-17 to 0-6 at Gaelic Park. Leitrim had secured a win over London the previous year but one has to go back to Sligo in 2006 for their last Championship triumph over a Connacht-based team. "Sligo a few weeks ago was a massive victory for us and a massive stepping stone for this team. Since the draw was done late last year all we had been thinking about was Sligo," he said. "Obviously the celebrations were brilliant and to see the fans so happy after it. We enjoyed the Sunday night but we were back training on the Tuesday night and all we were thinking about was obviously Roscommon. "The Sligo win is worth nothing to us now unless we get a victory in Carrick-on-Shannon this weekend. Having missed the last couple of years it was days like that, that you really aim for in your life. "I was lucky to come back in and get a victory on that day. It's brilliant for the supporters and regardless of my job (as a Garda) I'd say that if there was a couple of hundred Gardaí standing around the edges I don't think you would have stopped the Leitrim supporters running on the pitch that day! "They don't get those days too often and at the end of the day smaller counties like ourselves it's only right to let them enjoy it really." Leitrim have lost to Roscommon twice in the Connacht Championship in the last two years - in 2009 just four points separated the sides (2-13 to 2-09), with the margin a point greater (1-13 to 0-11) twelve months ago. Will it be a case of third time lucky for Mulligan and his team-mates against their Shannonside neighbours? A big test awaits against the reigning Connacht champions. "Roscommon and ourselves are always going to know the ins and outs of each other. Maybe more so us knowing them this year with a lot of new faces in our squad. "That Roscommon team hasn't changed a whole pile since winning the Connacht title last year. We played them the last two years in-a-row in the Connacht Championship, but we have a lot of new faces in this year. "We played them in the league too and I suppose it was a nothing game. They know exactly the way we played and we know they way they played. It will make for a good game on Sunday hopefully." Mulligan is very familiar with some of the Roscommon players, having gone to college with them in IT Sligo, and the text messages have been in full flow this week. "I know Seanie McDermott, Seanie Purcell and Enda Kenny quite well. It brings that bit more excitement to it, but at the same time the last thing you want to do is fall out with these guys," he added. "Whatever happens on the pitch happens, you try and forget about it after you leave the pitch and leave what happened on it. "It brings that extra bit of spice to things when you are playing against friends of yours. You obviously want to get one over them regardless of the hatred between the counties or the rivalry between us. "There is such a tradition between Roscommon and Leitrim...especially in Carrick-on-Shannon, there is a fierce rivalry. "At the end of the day neither team is thinking of a Connacht final, well we definitely aren't - all the people of Leitrim want is a victory over Roscommon really." A little more than 70 minutes should decide the outcome this Sunday - for the winners a Connacht final berth against either Galway or Mayo, and for the losers the opportunity to make amends via the All-Ireland qualifiers.