Although we’re unsure how Michael Murphy likes his eggs in the morning the Donegal captain was keeping the “sunny side out” after Donegal’s 0-12 to 0-10 loss at Pairc Ui Rinn on Saturday night.
Murphy was diplomatic despite having the obvious frustration etched across his face after his late chance to draw the match with a goal chance was so cruelly denied by a tackle from Eoin Cadogan that wouldn’t have looked out of place at Twickenham.
Keeping in sync with his manager Jim McGuinness, the Glenswilly captain wasn’t too downtrodden and his focus will continue towards May 26 and Tyrone in the first round of the Ulster championship. Meanwhile, in terms of the Allianz League Donegal face the defeated All-Ireland finalists Mayo on Sunday in Castlebar in the penultimate series of matches.
“In fairness to Cork they defended well,” Murphy said. “We started fairly brightly and we might have sneaked something at the end. It mightn’t have been a fair reflection on the game as a whole 70 minutes, but we’d have taken it had we got it. It wasn’t to be and we move on to Mayo now. We want to go out, get a performance and keep building towards that May date.
“It’s important to stay positive and it’s important to keep at it. We worked hard there today and maybe at times decision-making and other things just didn’t go our way. While Cork came out on the right side of it, we have to take a lot of positives out of it. Everybody worked hard and it’s another game under our belt, another step towards May.”
Donegal opened brightly but for a team famed for being a “third quarter side” it was Cork who stole the ascendancy in that loosely defined period as they outscored the Ulster and All-Ireland champions by nine points to two.
“You don’t want this to be happening in May – and that’s not trying to put any more pressure towards May, but nothing has changed for us,” Murphy said. “We won last week and we were building towards May, we lost this week and we’re building towards May. Ideally you’d want to be winning here, but it’s about performances first and foremost. It’s about working hard and keep pushing forward.
“Cork stretched the lead and went five up with 10 minutes to go. One of the big positives for us was that we kept plugging at it. We just didn’t let it get at us. It could have went for us on another day, but it wasn’t to be.
“It started off at a frantic pace. It was hard to keep up with that at this time of year, but in fairness to both teams they went hammer and tong at it. It didn’t live up to the openness of the first ten minutes, but both were going at it hard, defending well and trying to play football. Cork are in good shape, but we’ll keep at it.
McGuinness makes no secret of his desire in the league is to experiments and that was evident in Cork as Murphy lined up at centre-field alongside Rory Kavanagh before flittering in to full-forward the longer the game went on.
“We’re trying to experiment with various passages of play and various players. Thanks be to God, any players who have come in to do a job have been fairly impressive so far,” he said.
Getting another run out at midfield was good. Maybe if it’s called upon later in the season it’s nice to get a run out there. The way Gaelic football has gone, you need to be able to play in a variety of positions. Whenever you’re called upon to do a job for the team you’ve just got to do it.
“Performances are the big thing. We worked hard tonight. Without a doubt, there were patches when we were up against it and we were struggling, but we really kept at it, even when Cork had their purple patch. We kept the sunny side out when they went five up and we could have got something out of it. That’s football.”
Murphy wouldn’t leave without passing on his sympathy to Colm O’Neill, the Cork forward who has twice come back from cruciate injuries but left Pairc Ui Rinn on crutches. The full extent of his injury won’t be revealed until the coming days after a scan.”
“It’s horrible,” Murphy added. £You’re hearing reports this early that it’s something to do with the knee. It’s never nice. He was absolutely flying and he’s a tremendous player. To be injured and come back like he has done – twice – is not easy. Fingers crossed he’ll pull through it and please God he’ll be back playing sooner rather than later.”