Michael Murphy came in for special attention and man marking was taken to a new level by Tyrone’s Justin McMahon in yesterday’s clash in Ballybofey.
But the Donegal captain was making light of the Tyrone tactic afterwards and instead insisted that the Red Hand approach was part and parcel of championship football and the modern game. “I don’t think any player was receiving any more attention than any other out there today,” said Murphy.
“It is what you expect in championship football, especially in Ulster Championship football.
“Both teams went at in full endeavour and both teams put their bodies on the line. It is a competitive game. Both teams did it with good heart and good spirit and you expect nothing different from both sides, in a preliminary round championship game where the stakes are so high.”
The Donegal captain relished yesterday’s clash and expects nothing less in championship football.
“As a footballer you always want to pit yourself against the best players and the best team. We were up against some of the best players in the game and one of the best teams in the country, today in Tyrone,” he added.
“You want to be tested by the best and every player out on that field today were putting their body on the line for their team and their county.
“We knew that coming here today that we were coming up against some of the best players in the country and against one of the best teams in the country.
“Playing against the best players and team will bring you on and we id that today and hopefully we can learn something from today’s game going forward.”
Murphy insisted all that mattered was the result and that Donegal had more scores on the board than Tyrone.
“We are happy to get over the line. But we have to realise that it is only a preliminary round game. We have to move on to the next opposition and the next game and the first round proper.
The game itself, the captain felt, was a typical championship clash that ebbed and flowed and that both sides enjoyed spells in the ascendancy.
“It was a topsy turvy sort of game - that is the way championship football goes. It is about trying to keep yourself in the moment and in the game and that is what you try and do.
“It is not always going to go plain sailing and no team at this level is going to dominate from the first whistle to the last.
“We got off to a decent start and Tyrone came back into with a great goal and they kicked a number of fantastic points and went two up at one stage towards the end of the half.
“But we responded and Martin McElhinney scored the goal to send us in a couple of points up at half-time.
“They had a good start to the second half and drew level. It took us a while to find our feet in the second half and thank God we popped over a few scores.
“On another day Tyrone might have got a goal, but Paul (Durcan) made a brilliant save and thank God we kept our heads and kept pushing on until the end.” When the game was in the balance Michael landed two long range frees to clinch the game. They were huge scores in a tight encounter.
The captain was also high in his praise for the rest of his team mates who dug deep when Tyrone threatened to upset the odds.
“I thought Patrick McBrearty kicked a number of fantastic points, as did Colm McFadden and Martin McElhinney, Christy Toye, Odhran MacNiallais and Karl Lacey.
“Overall I thought it was a great team performance. The back line was fantastic and Paul Durcan had another super game as well as that late save I thought he was phenomenal with his kickouts. “The lads that came off the bench also made a contribution. It was by no means a perfect performance and we are going to have to improve a lot if we are going to beat Armagh.”