Mulligan shares memories of marking Francie

Owen Mulligan and Francie Bellew were two players that defined the Armagh and Tyrone rivalry of the noughties.

The two always squared up when the counites went to war and it was a match up worth keeping an eye on.

Mulligan was a guest speaker at Saturday nights surprise tribute night to Francie and recalled his battles with the Crossmaglen legend.

“I think we first marked each other probably in Omagh (2003 NFL). We didn’t give Armagh a guard of honour after winning the All-Ireland and then it kind of spiralled from that.

“It got hot and heavy in Omagh. It just stared to grow legs and that’s when the rivalry started. Obviously, we had massive respect for what Armagh did in 2002, they were the first ones to do it.

“There was probably a lot of jealousy there from the Tyrone lads, I wasn’t really jealous of it because I’m on the Derry-Tyrone border.

“I have more of a hatred for Derry but the likes of Philly Jordan and Sean Cavanagh, they fucking hate Armagh. I know a few of the older lads would have been in college with the Tyrone lads as well.

“In the (2003) All-Ireland final, I went over to Francie and said, ‘well gorgeous.’ He said, ‘you’re not so bad yourself.’

“I was happy enough with the response to be honest! So, I left it at that. It was a great response because I began to think, ‘what the fucks he talking about?’

Photo Credit: Crossmaglen

Bellew was one the toughest men that Mulligan came up against during his playing days. When Bellew hit you, you stayed hit.

“Two of the best players that ever marked me was Niall McCusker of Derry and Franice. He was a great reader of the game and I probably underestimated that in the All-Ireland final.

“This man was supposed to be slow; this man was supposed to be silly; this man was supposed to be this. He was none of them. He was up there, he was getting a hand in.

“Alright, he would have probably get you to the ground and not let you get up, he’d have helped himself. And if he didn’t get the ball he fucking certainly got me.”