Michael Murphy will have to be content with the role of supporter as Donegal open their Ulster championship campaign at Breffni Park in Cavan on Sunday.
After a momentous 2011, when Murphy took Donegal to a first Ulster championship in 19 years and a National Football League Division Two title, not to mention his club side Glenswilly’s first ever county championship, it’s been a frustrating calendar year to date.
The Donegal captain missed the Dr McKenna Cup and opening Division One fixtures having undergone an operation on a troublesome Gilmore’s groin injury, before returning to play a starring role in the home victories against Cork and Mayo.
The 22-year-old was on his way to a man-of-the-match performance against Dublin at Croke Park but collided innocently with wing-back Johnny Cooper and ended up on crutches having injured lateral ligaments in his knee. He is still only on the road to recovery.
“I’ve been on the bike and hope to get out on the pitch in a couple of weeks time,” he said. “There’s no real target but the specialist is happy enough so I’m progressing really well. The leg is getting stronger and feeling stronger so I hope to be back out and rejoining training in four weeks time.
“I just went into a tackle awkwardly against Dublin and stretched and felt it on the knee. It wasn’t overly painful but it was discomforting and I felt weak. The scans revealed I had a tear. I don’t think I did any damage playing on and there’s been no repercussions since. I’ve been riddled with injuries this year. Only back from one and then got another.
“Being injured is not where any inter-county footballer wants to be approaching the championship. The fever starts with the ground getting harder and the sun shining high in the sky. You don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines. It’s was alright for a couple of weeks but it’s starting to nag now.”
Although obviously disappointed, Murphy is diplomatic at the present time. He has a job to do in the coming weeks, with the best case scenario him being fit and remnants of the Donegal panel getting the better of Cavan to set-up an Ulster championship quarter-final in mid-June at MacCumhaill Park.
“It would be selfish of me now to start thinking of myself as it’s about the greater good of the team, to push them on training and try and push myself on with my recovery,” he continued. “Cavan is the only intention for now. If we can get past that then I would hope to be back for the next game. That would be great. It’s all about championship and I’ll be there to support the boys on Sunday. You never get anything easily in Ulster. Last year was hard but you can never rest on tour laurels. You can never look too far ahead of yourself.”