Emlyn Mulligan has never played in Croke Park and some 'heroes' still think that's grand
How would a player not want to play in an All-Ireland quarter final in Croke Park at their own level?
Emlyn Mulligan has been down for long enough. He'll keep coming back because as he says himself he knows no different but wouldn't it be no harm if it was a little bit different?
Let's not forget, the Melvin Gaels club man is one of the best footballers in the country. It's a bit of a shame that one of the best footballers in the country has never got the honour to run out in Croke Park but if things stay going the way they are, Emlyn Mulligan will probably never get the chance.
The 'heroes,' as Mulligan brands them himself, will keep on saying that they want to stay testing themselves against the best, but that must get a little bit monotonous when these occasions invariably lead so soul destroying clippings.
Yes, Carlow pulled off a giant-killing this year against Kildare, but the Leitrim legend feels that these results are too few and too far between to justify the trimmings.
Now it's hard to blame football folk for opposing a tiered football championship. All they've to do is take a quick look at hurling's equivalent in the Joe McDonagh Cup. That's gone so far under the radar in its first year that its final throwing in 15 minutes before the Munster hurling decider isn't even raising an eyebrow.
But something has to give, and if it's a world cup format where there are eight groups of four with each group containing one team from each division, that could be the solution.
In that instance, the top two after the group stages go through to the senior championship last 16 and the bottom two go into an intermediate championship last 16.
It could be a potential option.
"Take London and New York out of it, I've only won one championship game and that was in 2011," said Mulligan solemnly on Thursday's GAA Hour Show.
"There's a good chance I'm going to finish my career never having played in Croke Park.
"If there was a tier two, you'd have a realistic chance of it. That's why the League is the most competitive of the whole lot. Every week, regardless of who you're playing, you're going out thinking you've a realistic chance of winning it."
Mulligan feels that on balance, these teams would be a lot better off in a new system.
"You hear Turlough O'Brien and these lads saying 'this is proven' but those results that Carlow are getting or even ourselves against Louth. That's only covering up the cracks really. There are so many other hammerings being handed up."
"By keeping Division Three and Four together, you're competing against teams you really believe you can beat them.
"That means a lot more than going out playing Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and getting the shite kicked out of us year in year out."
For all the training these players are putting in, it's just not worth it for one day in the summer sun.
"You're training since October for what, the qualifiers really. I know Waterford came out a few weeks ago and said that was their aim, and in fairness, they went out and bet Wexford after but if that's what they're aiming for, that just proves the need for the two tier system.
"It's not helping the weaker teams, the trimmings we're getting. If we want to approach this game at the weekend against Monaghan for example, God knows what could be handed out.
"We're playing one of the top teams in the country. Call a spade a spade, you have to be realistic. You've all of these heroes going around saying 'oh no, we want to be playing the top teams.'
"Once in ten years you might catch them out, once in 20 even. I just don't think it's good enough for the work the boys are putting in."
"It's a false belief, you get into a bubble. I'm brutal for getting into that bubble, thinking, yeah Jesus, we'll beat Kerry if they come up to us. When you're bet, you're like Jesus Christ, how naive was I?"
Mulligan doesn't beat around the bush.
You can listen to the Mulligan interview, Wooly's take on the Newbridge mess and much much more.