In 1981, Ronnie McFall signed former Ballymena Utd striker Gerry Mullan from Everton for a reported £40,000. Signing for a side who had been invincible the season before Mullan tucked in straight away to McFall's side. On 28th November 1981 Mullan struck his first goal for The Glens in a 6-1 victory over Crusaders at The Oval. His debut season finished with 5 goals from 18 appearances but there was far more to come in the years that followed.
The 1982/83 season saw Glentoran reach the Irish Cup Final to play Linfield. As featured earlier today, Johnny Jameson stole the show but Gerry Mullan played his part in the Jameson's story. Mullan had scored previously in the quarter final against Coleraine but his goal in The Final gave Glentoran the lead before Lindsay McKeown equalised for Linfield from the penalty spot. In the replay Jameson took centre stage and Glentoran ended a 10 year wait to win the Irish Cup.
In 1985 Glentoran were at it again in The Irish Cup and Mullan again amongst the goals. He scored in the first round before striking the post in the semi-final with the rebound being turned home by Morrison on the 81st minute to equalise against Coleraine and keep Cup Final hopes alive. Morrison scored again and Glentoran were back in The Final, and back against The Blues.
As in ’83, Gerry Mullan gave the Glens the lead only for a George Gibson header to level the tie at 1-1 on 44 minutes. The second half couldn't produce a winner and so it was back to Windsor Park a week later for a replay. A single goal decided the destiny of the cup. In the 36th minute full-back, George Neill found Gerry Mullan and his cross-shot was turned into his own net by Paul Mooney. Linfield tried in vain for an equaliser but it wasn’t to be and Glentoran maintained their record of not having lost to Linfield in an Irish Cup final since 1945. The cup was at the Oval for the 11th time.
Victory in 1985 started a run of 4 straight Irish Cup wins for Glentoran, a record at the time. That man Gerry Mullan was at centre stage throughout. In 1986 he missed a penalty in the first round but it all got better from there! He scored twice in the semi-final win over Brantwood and in the Final he was on hand again just like a year previous to score the opening goal against Coleraine. The Bannsiders grabbed an equaliser but Paul Millar's famous winner (more on that later) as enough to win the Cup back to back for Glentoran.
Gerry Mullan had scored three times in the Irish Cup Final but never had he grabbed the winner. Arguably the closest he had come was the assist for Paul Mooney's own goal but in 1987, in Glentoran's third consecutive final, Mullan not only scored again, but this time it was the winner.
Our quest for a hattrick of Irish Cup wins began with a home tie against Carrick Rangers. Barney Bowers, Billy Caskey and Gary Macartney were all on target as the Glens recorded a 3-1 win to set up a second round meeting with Glenavon. Glentoran squeezed through by the narrowest of margins, Caskey and Cleary adding to an own goal from Burns to complete a 3-2 victory. It should perhaps have been more comfortable but Gary Blackledge’s dismissal left us with 10 men for the final 35 minutes.
Newry Town were our opponents in the semi-final and as in 1986, the game was played at Windsor Park on the Friday night. Marty Magee gave Newry the lead but on the half hour, Gerry Mullan netted an equaliser to take us to a replay. It took place the following Tuesday night at the same venue. Again it was Newry Town who went in front, courtesy of a first-half Eamon Hawkins penalty. On 76 minutes Jim Cleary levelled it and with just 5 minutes remaining G-Force (Macartney) poked home the winner.
We travelled across town to play Larne in the Final and again Gerry Mullan was to be on the score sheet, netting in his FOURTH Irish Cup final for Glentoran. His 33rd minute goal, set up by Raymond Morrison, was the only one of the game and the first hattrick of Irish Cup wins since 1893 had been completed.
After scoring in 4 straight finals Gerry Mullan went on to be Glentoran's leading goalscorer in a double winning side of 1988 with 27 goals but although no goal in The Final this time he picked up his 5th Irish Cup medal with the club. In the summer of 1988 Gerry Mullan moved on to Coleraine, saying the travelling from the North-West was too much for him.
For netting four times in the Irish Cup Final and a famous assist in 85, Mullan is truly one of Glentoran's greatest ever Irish Cup Final Heroes.