By Michael McMullan
FOR the second year in a row, Cathal Mulholland kicked home a county final goal as Glen kept their hands on the John McLaughlin Cup, clinching three-in-a-row.
Three points from younger brother Eunan, named as Man of the Match, helped Glen reel Magherafelt back in from their 0-5 to 0-2 lead.
The sides were level by half time and after Emmett Bradley edged Glen ahead again, it was the older Mulholland’s moment.
Ryan Dougan’s high ball wasn’t dealt with in the Rossa square and when Conor Convery spooned the ball out of the ruck, Mulholland finished the game’s only goal, via a kiss off the inside of the post.
“I got a touch,” he joked after Sunday’s win. “I can’t claim the one against Sleacht Néill, I know I got credited with that, but I didn’t get a touch.”
When Danny Tallon floated a free into the box, the ball ended up in the net for a crucial semi-final goal. Such was Mulholland’s celebration, many in the ground felt he had got the finishing touch.
“I have a habit of it now,” he said. “I just follow the ball in; you’d be surprised what can happen.
“I know from defending them, you see a high ball coming in and with a bit of pinball it can end up anywhere.”
Mulholland was one of a litany of graduates from their underage production line that dominated club u-16, minor and u-21 football in Ulster for close to a decade.
After knocking the door at senior level, they eventually kicked it down in 2021 and have been top dogs in the Oakleaf County since.
“It’s absolutely brilliant,” he said with a beaming smile and eyes dancing with delight.
“To be honest, when we were beaten in the 2019 final by Magherafelt, you were wondering was it going to happen here and asking ourselves if we’d ever get one.
“To get the first one and to get that ball rolling, we are now going well…to get three in a row, it’s just class.”
Mulholland feels that first dose of winning feeling in 2019 yielded the confidence to return for more silverware and the club are on the crest of a wave.
“That bit of confidence it gives you, it helps,” he said. “You have gone and you have done it and you have won it.
“No matter what anybody says, there were the doubts about us before when we got to ’19 and didn’t win the final that day (against Magherafelt).
“There was the story of “Glen couldn’t do it; Glen couldn’t do it” and maybe after ’19…you were wondering that maybe they were right.”
A hallmark of Glen’s run has been their convincing county final wins. They beat Sleacht Néill 1-13 to 0-7 in 2021 with a 1-12 to 0-7 winning margin in the rematch the following year.
Sunday was another 1-13 to 0-7 scoreline, albeit the game was still firmly in the balance at half-time.
“When you get to the big day, the management can taper the training and have it fine, right to the end to get us in a really, really, good place,” Mulholland offers of how they can save their best performances for that day when the cup is up for grabs.
“When you get to a final, their influence and our influence… everybody rises for a final
“You can get caught in semi-finals if you are stuttering or stammering through them.
“When you go down to the final, it goes down to our backroom team, they play a major part in that and getting us right.”
Who was the happier Mulholland on Sunday, a day when his mother Bronagh ran the Dublin marathon?
“I would say Eunan,” Cathal concluded. “I had a bit of a sore groin and had to go off.
“To be fair to Eunan, he has been brilliant and got Man of the Match, fair play to him…he had some game.”