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Watch: Owen Mulligan Sat His Driving Test Four Times The Week Of The 2003 Ulster Final

Owen Mulligan was the subject of TG4’s Laochra Gael last night, and the former Tyrone forward certainly did not disappoint. 

Mugsy won three All Ireland’s in his stint with the Red Hand (although he feels he is undeserving of the last of those, coming in 2008), and is fondly remembered as one of the county’s favourite sons. A maverick of noughties Gaelic football, there were often days that the Cookstown clubman was simply unmarkable.

Who will ever forget when he tore the Dubs defence to shreds in 2005 in Croker?

Mulligan is currently plying his trade with the London footballers, having moved to the big city earlier this year for work commitments and is line to appear for the Exiles when they take on Leitrim in the Connacht SFC on Sunday week.

The 35-year-old gave us an insight into the mindset of his genius on last night’s episode. From recalling the glory days of his three Celtic cross wins alongside Peter “The Great” Canavan, to looking back with a sorry heart on the time he went drinking with a teammate the week of the 2008 All Ireland finalMulligan’s episode had it all.

All Ireland Senior Football Final Tyrone 25/9/2005 Tyrone's Owen Mulligan lifts the Sam Maguire Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

One hilarious anecdote to come out of the final edition of this Laochra Gael series was when Mugsy took us back to the week of the 2003 Ulster Final replay against Down.

Having drawn the first game, most players would have spent the preceding week in the build up to the replay focussed entirely on nothing but improving their performance and getting more out of themselves than they had in the first game. Not Owen. He had his driving test scheduled for the Monday morning the week of the replay.

He went on to fail it not once, not twice, but three times that week, before finally passing the test the morning before the match. How does one even sit four driving tests in one week? Mulligan explains the privileged role he had in the community, being a GAA star:

“I was a late developer in getting the licence.

“I was doing the driving test with Pat Canavan, a local instructor from Cookstown.

“The Monday, we got the test and he said, ‘I don’t really want you to be panicking because you’ve got this big match.’ So I failed it on the Monday.

“He rung me again on the Wednesday and I failed it on the Wednesday.

“He rung me on the Friday and said. ‘Right, you’ve an hour go at this here. You’ll have to do it this time.’ I failed it again on the Friday.

“Then on the Saturday morning, I finally got it. Four tests and I finally got it on the fourth time.”


With his driving license eventually secured, Mulligan went on to score four points in the replay against Down, collecting an Ulster medal on the way to the first of his three All Ireland’s with Micky Harte’s team.


Be sure to check out the latest episode of our GAA podcast, The 16th Man.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.