No Bones About It

Declan Bonner

Michael Murphy has the total package – and Glenswilly can press on from final win

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THERE are very few players who can lay claim to having it all – we are lucky in Donegal, then, that we have Michael Murphy.

Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, it is easy to get caught in hype and hysteria, but even now, days after the event, it is difficult not to marvel at Murphy’s performance in Sunday’s county final against Killybegs.

Michael scored 1-5 for Glenswilly and there are those who, ridiculously, point out that he didn’t score from play. Frankly, that’s an absurd remark for Murphy’s performance last Sunday is up there with all the great county final performances of our, or indeed any time.

What people seem to realise about Michael Murphy is that he has the total package: He is a real team player; he can score at will; he has x-ray vision sometimes that enables him to bring other players from the periphery onto centre stage.

All of that was evident at Sean MacCumhaill Park on Sunday.

Early in the second half, he pulled at a ’45 just at the point where there appeared to be seeds of doubt blooming within the minds of the Glenswilly players. Jason Noctor was intent on getting into Murphy’s face, but it was an ill-advised and futile attempt.

Murphy absolutely dominated play for thereafter and on several occasions he found himself having to shrug off three, four or even five opponents.

It was some weekend for Michael. He didn’t appear to have to exert himself too much on Saturday evening in the International Rules game, but it was still a proud night for Michael to captain a winning Irish team against Australia.

He was at the centre of a lot of media comment last week after it was confirmed that the final would go ahead a day after the first Test in Cavan.

There was a will he or won’t he saga being dragged out – but for Michael there was never a dilemma, even to begin with.

Anyone who knows anything about Michael Murphy will know that the Glenswilly clubs means so much to him.

Mick Murphy has put so much into the club over the years, as the current chairman but also as someone who has been on various committees at various levels.

Michael has been steeped in the workings of Glenswilly all his life – and he’s now repaying all the hard endeavour that his dad put into their beloved club.

Winning Dr Maguire for the second time meant a great deal to the Murphy household with Michael the player and Mick the Chairman playing integral roles in the club.

Michael Murphy seems to always save his best for the last.

He was outstanding on Sunday and with him on this kind of form you wouldn’t rule them out of making a fist of Sunday-week’s game against St Gall’s.

He and Neil Gallagher are a fine tag team in the Glenswilly side. They play extremely well together. Big Neil is a pivotal part of what Glenswilly are about. He waits and looks always for the right option and nine times out of ten he’ll put it where Murphy will win it. It’s no coincidence that Donegal won an All-Ireland with those two playing well.

Glenswilly have a massive opportunity on Sunday-week, at home to St Gall’s in Ballybofey. St Gall’s have been one of the top teams in recent times and while it is a big ask for Glenswilly they have a good record in big games at MacCumhaill Park.

Glenswilly have the players and the talent to make a go of it – and also have the chance to push on for further glory in the Donegal Championship.

Michael Murphy has been around for a lifetime, but he’s only 24, the likes of Ruairi Crawford, Leon Kelly, Kealan McFadden, Gary McFadden and Philip O’Donnell are young men and the likes of Ciaran Bonner, Colin Kelly and Neil Gallagher should have plenty more in the tank. The spine of the Glenswilly team is so strong and they should be well equipped to continue their golden age.

FUTURE FOR SERIES IS BLEAK

I SAW during the week that some of the Australian Rules players were a bit over-zealous in enjoying themselves at Dromoland Castle Hotel in the wake of the first Test on Saturday night.

The stories of the Aussies and the experience of last Saturday night’s game in Cavan has left me in no doubt that this charade has run its course.

Michael Murphy will forever have the fact that he captained Ireland as an impressive feather in his cap, one of which he is rightly proud, but this series has become something that we all feared. I wonder where the seriousness has gone?

The contract is up for renewal after next year’s Tests and, really and truly, you have to say that it feels like we have reached the end of the line. The game in Cavan on Saturday was a damp squib. The atmosphere was a manufactured one and I’d like to see a breakdown of how many under 16s were in the crowd. It will be interesting to see the attendance at Croke Park this weekend.

The physicality has gone out of this ‘sport’ but it is a sad day when the public is almost pining for violence to bring life to a ball game.

The skill set of some of the Australian players left quite an amount to be desired and wouldn’t have been out of place in a junior game.

It is a great honour for players to wear an Irish jersey and that’s something that can never be taken away from Michael Murphy, Neil McGee and Patrick McBrearty. That, though, is where it starts and stops.

Simply, the International Rules has no future.

CAVANAGH COMPLAINTS

SEAN Cavanagh was an irritated and angered individual on Saturday.

The Tyrone man came out strong and down heavy on the Eglish club. Sean plays for Moy, who were scheduled to play against Eglish in a relegation play-off, which happened to be in conflict with the International Rules game in Cavan

Sean Cavanagh is a great gael. He gives his all wherever he plays and, like Michael Murphy in Donegal, did not deserve to be put in a situation last weekend.

What was very interesting about it all was that Eglish happens to be the home club of the late Cormac McAnallen, after whom the International Rules series is named.

Eglish would not change the game against Moy.

“You’d think if anyone would understand, Eglish would understand,” Cavanagh had said.

“Cormac was a proud Eglish man, a proud Tyrone man and a proud Irishman and I’d like to think if the roles were reversed that he would be looking to play in this competition if it was in my name. He was a great friend of mine.”

Oddly, the game was called off after a downpour rendered the pitch unplayable – a case of divine intervention or what?

It was a sorry state of affairs and a further pointer as to why the Rules series has no future in its current guise.

Feargal McGill and Paraic Duffy intervened from Croke Park, but there was still no budging the Eglish club.

You’d wonder how the Donegal senior final was ever going to be called off when the club of the player after whom the series is named wouldn’t move a game…

SURVIVAL BATTLE

I MENTIONED, in recent columns, how history and tradition is such an important thread in the fabric of so many clubs.

Ardara is one such club. Pearse Park is one of those grounds in Donegal that rekindles so many great battles down the years and Kentucky has been a graveyard for many top teams.

One of their proudest records is that they hold an unbroken run in Division 1 of the All-County Football League that goes all the way back to 1976.

That record is on the line on Sunday when it’s put to the test in the form of a do-or-die relegation play-off battle with Four Masters in Donegal town.

I know what this game and this record means to the people in the Ardara club and you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll be going all out to win this one to make sure that they’re playing in Division 1 in 2014.

I wouldn’t be backing against them, either.

They are coming into this game just a few weeks after pushing Glenswilly all the way in the SFC semi-final. That night, they put in a barnstorming second-half performance and their comeback agains the Glen showed the fires that burn deep in them.

They will have garnered quite an amount of confidence from that night and that will really stand to them this Sunday.

Have you a comment to make on any of the above, or would you like Declan to raise an issue in the column? If so, you can get in touch by emailing d.bonner@donegalnews.com

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