Tyrone legend Owen Mulligan has hit back at those who criticise Tyrone for cynical play, saying players are right to foul towards the end of close matches.
The three-time All-Ireland winner is no longer part of Mickey Harte’s Tyrone panel, but he has no doubt that his former team-mates charges are right to foul when necessary.
Tyrone were strongly criticised for pulling down players as they defended a narrow lead in their All-Ireland qualifier victory against Meath last week.
Speaking about the criticism to Marty Morrissey on RTÉ’s Championship Matters, Mulligan said: “It’s wrong. I know if it’s the last five minutes of a game and I’m two points up or a point up I’m going to pull a man down or foul him. I’m not going to let him go and score a goal and take my place in the quarter-final.”
Tyrone have also suffered their fair share of fouling and in Mulligan’s view, every team engages in tactical fouling to some extent.
“You only have to look at Stephen O’Neill and Peter Canavan are getting it done to them all their lives, getting fouled all the time. To say that about the Tyrone team, it’s not on. Every team does it.”
Waterford manager Niall Carew, formerly Kieran McGeeney’s number two with Kildare, and Galway footballer Sean Armstrong were also in the Championship Matters studio and they backed Mulligan’s point of view.
Carew said: “If you are two points up and there is a minute to go, you would be very foolish not to pull somebody down. In fairness, if a player didn’t, they would hear about it from the manager.
"I agree with Owen, it’s not cynicism. It’s the right thing to do. You have to win.”
Armstrong, who was part of a Galway team that suffered a painful collapse in the last 10 minutes of their All-Ireland qualifier clash last Saturday, added: “Maybe we should have done it more against Cork. Maybe we have to learn from that. It’s not cynicism. Every team does it.”