Once again Donegal’s leader, Michael Murphy, played his part in edging Donegal to an Ulster final after a really tough battle with Derry.
Afterwards Murphy was just talking about the final and getting an improved performance. Asked about the gaps in the scoring pattern for Donegal which saw them go 20 minutes in the opening half and 18 in the second without a score, he was philosophical.
“I suppose we couldn’t get through, it was as simple as that there. You’re not always going to get scores in every minute of every game. I thought the composure shown to keep at it and keep chipping away was impressive in a way.
“But we’re under no illusions. That performance today will have to improve massively in all facets of our game.
“Around that midfield quarter Monaghan are a fantastic side. They will be coming here on their own patch as favourites, but it will be up to us over the next three weeks to prepare as best we can and try to get a performance that is worthy of an Ulster final,” said Murphy.
“Today, we managed to get over the line and the thoughts on the Ulster final is about preparation. We’ll get back again and prepare from tomorrow and try and get the bodies right for a big three week push and try and improve elements of our game and never, ever lose sight of that,” he said.
Asked if he could have foreseen Donegal reaching five Ulster finals in-a-row under his captaincy, he said: “You would never imagine that (setting out in 2011) but it’s no good getting to a final; you have to go on now and get a performance which is worthy”
“When you do get that far, you want to go on and win. It’s like a game of football; you need to seize the purple patch when you’re in it, so that’s what we’ll do now. We have three weeks to get a performance to be ready to compete with this Monaghan side.
“We have played them in league and championship over the last number of years and they are a good side and are on their home patch,” said Murphy, who said they have to look after their own patch in their preparations.
Asked about Donegal’s position among the experts as being among the favourites for the All-Ireland, Murphy dismissed it immediately. “That’s just silly chat. Inevitably it is going to happen, but it doesn’t seep into this group of players. It never has and that is one of the main reasons why we are able to keep a level headed position and keep going after performances.
“We will keep our feet on the floor,” said Murphy.
The captain was high in praise for his teammates, especially big Neil Gallagher. “He is a huge player. We have plenty of them, great tacklers and great link players. Neil had a big game out there today with Odhran (MacNiallais) and Colm (McFadden) came back in after the sickness and chipped in with a couple of points.
“I was delighted for Marty O’Reilly getting another goal; Marty has worked really, really hard and the defence with Paddy McGrath, they worked really hard.” Looking forward to the decider, he feels motivation will not be an issue: “If you can’t get yourselves motived for an Ulster final, there is no hope. That’s the way we will be looking at it. We will have to get ourselves up for it. I think we are up for it. But time will tell,” concluded Murphy.