Mullen, Colum

30 April 2004
The Late Colum P. Mullan

The death took place of former Ballerin and Derry player Colum P. Mullan.

Colum P. first came to prominence in the early months of 1965 when he played at centre half back on the St. Columb’s College, Derry side that beat St. Michael’s, Enniskillen to win their first ever McRory Cup title at Dungannon.

Captained by Paddy McCotter of Kilrea, and including future stars like Tom Quinn, Malachy McAfee, Peter Stevenson, Chris Brown, Seamus Lagan and Brendan Mullan this great side went to beat St, Jarlath’s of Tuam and then, in the final, after a replay, Belcamp OMI from Raheny in Dublin to lift the Hogan Cup by a point at Ballybay.

Fr Ignatius McQuillan was in charge of that St. Columb’s team and he trained the college contingent in Derry that were part of the Derry minor side that lifted the Ulster and All Ireland minor titles the same year under the captaincy of Bellaghy’s Tommy Diamond. The late Sean O’Connell, also a Ballerin man, managed the side as they defeated Kerry by four points.
That same year Colum P. scored 1-01 in the last minute of the Derry minor final to draw with Magherafelt and he then played a prominent part, along with Brendan Mullan and Malachy McAfee, as Ballerin won the replay 1-05 to 0-07 at Dungiven.

Three years later Tommy Diamond was again the captain when Derry won the Under 21 titles. Colum P. did not play in the final because of injury but had been an integral part of the panel throughout the campaign.
In 1970 Colum P. made his senior championship debut for Derry and he was on the team that beat Antrim at Clones in the first eighty minute final but missed penalties by the late Sean O’Connell and Seamus Lagan put paid to their chances against Kerry in the All Ireland semi final. That same day the now Celtic manager Martin O’Neill also missed a penalty as Derry went down by a point in the minor semi final against Kerry.

In 1972 Derry were beaten in the Ulster senior semi final by Tyrone at Dungannon, Colum P. now an inspirational leader of the Derry attack after two seasons as a dashing half back. Tragically he would play his last match in Navan against Meath at the end of that year.

In January of 1973 Aghyaran’s Brendan Dolan, who had been full back on the St. Columb’s team in 1965, and had occupied the same position for Tyrone in the 1972 championship game against Derry, was killed in a car crash.
On his way home from the funeral of his colleague Colum P. was involved in a car crash that would put an untimely end to his blossoming football career. Although confined to a wheel chair for the rest of his life Colum P. remained actively involved in youth affairs in his beloved Ballerine.

He has been unwell for some time now but his death was still a sad shock to his family and friends. He was a great footballer in his youth and, after his accident, he bore his cross with great dignity and fortitude, always with a ready smile and a quiet word. He will be sadly missed by all who had the privilege to meet him in the last thirty or more years when his injuries took their toll.

To his family and friends sincere sympathy is extended, the moving panegyric by Fr. Andy Dolan at the funeral on Sunday afternoon testimony to the high esteem in which Colum P. had been held by all who came in contact with over the years.
Go ndearna dia trocaire ar a anam.

Courtesy of the Mid-Ulster Observer, April, 2004.