DONEGAL supporters may have been disappointed to hear this week that Michael Murphy required surgery and will miss the start of the league, but the number 14 jersey looks to be in safe hands in the possession of Michael Langan judging by Wednesday night’s showing.
Langan played at full-forward against Cavan, and was in exceptional form as he landed nine points in a man of the match display.
The St Michael’s clubman was also on free-taking duty, and while he acknowledges that he may have to pass that baton on to Murphy when he returns, Langan is happy to take on the responsibility in his absence.
“I hit them for the club, and I have confidence in myself,” said the LYIT student.
“I’m sure when Michael comes back, he will probably be looking to take them off me, but sure I’ll take them to he comes back.”
Langan set the tone for the match by booming over a great point after only two minutes and Cavan couldn’t get near him in the first half. He was able to find little pockets of space, and only needs a half-yard of space before pulling the trigger.
“I got a few crucial points, and I suppose I feel that’s one of the strengths of my game.
“When the opportunities came I was just glad to take them.
“It’s a good start to the season, and hopefully I can take that form into the league and build on it for the championship again.”
It wasn’t a vintage display from Declan Bonner’s team but they never looked like letting the game slip out of their grasp.
The early red card to David Philips certainly helped Donegal’s cause, although Langan believes there is a lot to work on in the coming weeks.
“That probably played into our hands a bit but we mixed the good with the bad.
“We know looking forward to where we want to go and what we want to win, that probably won’t be good enough.
“We’ll take the positives and look at the negatives as well, and hopefully correct them for the next day.”
Langan also picked up a man-of-the-match award in the McKenna Cup last year when he scored 1-6 against Queen’s.
However, that performance came at a cost as he picked up an injury and only returned in the penultimate league game against Monaghan in Clones.
“I was carrying a lot of injuries last year, and I was playing in the Trench Cup as well, so I actually didn’t get on in a lot of the McKenna Cup last year.
“I missed a lot of the league as well and came into it and got my chance in a few friendly matches.
“I’m injury free now and hopefully it will stay like that.”
Despite not featuring much in the league, Langan won his place in the starting fifteen for the championship last summer
While he made his debut the previous season, 2018 was really his breakthrough campaign when he showed the province what he could do by helping Donegal to the Ulster title.
However, the 21-year-old is determined not to rest on his laurels, especially with so much competition for places in Bonner’s panel.
“It was probably a breakthrough in many ways but as you can see out there, a lot of younger boys have come into the squad, and a few of the older boys are not back yet.
“Everyone is putting up their hand, but there are plenty of spaces there, and if anyone is playing well, Declan’s not afraid to put them in there.”
2018 was a decent season for Donegal, and Langan has high hopes for the coming season as well.
“Last year we probably thought we had a chance of getting through to the All-Ireland Final if we had beat Tyrone.
“This year we’ll be looking for Ulster and see how that goes, and hopefully we can make the Super 8s. We will aim high.”
Next up for Donegal is a McKenna Cup semi-final against Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh.
Langan didn’t play when the sides met at the same juncture last year, but he has come up against the Orchard county before and knows what to expect.
“I have played against Armagh in a few friendlies, but I haven’t played against them in a competitive match.
“It should be a good challenge. We know that Armagh are very physical, but it’s a game that we are looking forward to and hopefully we can win it.”
The prize for victory on Sunday is a place in the Dr McKenna Cup Final, and as reigning champions, Donegal want to get back to the decider and retain their crown.
“We’d definitely like to get through to the final. We want to be playing games and not training. That’s the way we are looking at it.
“We’re going out to win every game and the McKenna Cup is a trophy to us at the end of the day and we will be looking to win it.”
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