Nathan Mullins’ deep Dublin brogue masks a man born and raised in Donegal.
The 27-year-old midfielder is of the St Vincent’s club in Marino, on Dublin’s north side.
He was the player of the Dublin senior football championship in 2017 and yet this week made his debut for the Donegal senior team.
Mullins is no ordinary Dub, either.
His father, Brian, is regarded as one of the greatest Dublin footballers of all time. In the era of Kevin Heffernan and Tony Hanahoe, Brian Mullins won four All-Irelands and nine Leinster titles.
It was while Brian was based in Carndonagh, as the principal of Carndonagh Community School, that Nathan was born. He played underage with Carndonagh and it was at Foden where he cut his teeth in the game while he was at primary school in the town. Mullins’ deep affection for Donegal meant he had no hesitation when Declan Bonner came calling in the winter.
“I’m honoured to wear the Donegal jersey and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year,” Mullins says.
“It was nice to get playing in front of the home crowd and get a competitive game under my belt. I’m happy out.
“It’s been great. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it so far. The lads have all been great and I’m looking forward to the future here.
“I know Donegal like the back of my hand and I love every moment I spend up here.
“I come up to Donegal a lot. I have family in Inishowen and I’m after spending the whole Christmas and New Year here. Any break from work or time off from the club, a lot of people wouldn’t know, but I’d be up here. It’s a three or four-hour drive, but I love it in Donegal.”
Mullins played for both Dublin and Donegal at under-21 level, but he wasn’t on board for Dublin’s rise to dominance at senior level.
There were whispers that Dublin manager Jim Gavin might dial his number after a series of impressive displays as St Vincent’s stormed to a fourth Dublin SFC crown in five years. A subsequent shock loss by Rathnew from Wicklow ended their Leinster and All-Ireland aspirations at an early stage and Mullins was at a sudden loose end.
“When Declan called, I wasn’t doing much,” the midfielder says.
“I was happy to commit to Donegal. Obviously I was heavily involved with Vincent’s, but that didn’t last as long as it should have. Unfortunately, that ended quicker than expected with the loss.
“I was 100 per cent committed to the club. It was just straight from the challenge of the club to this, that’s just the way I look at things – just get right into the next challenge.
“I’ve been impressed by Declan and the backroom team so far. They work so hard, but that’s where Gaelic football is at now. The margins are so small and you have to do anything you can to win.”
Mullins netted a goal in Wednesday’s 2-15 to 0-6 win over Queen’s in Ballybofey, rising NBA-style to flick home from Hugh McFadden’s delivery – ‘I got a bit lucky’, he laughs – and is already being touted as a real Championship option for Bonner.
“I’m only knew coming in so I have to lay down a marker at training, at friendly games and in competitive games,” Mullins says.
“Every game is so important. I have to be a leader and contribute something to the squad. I’m just taking every day as it comes and training as best as I can. I want to be successful for Donegal.”Tags: