There is a saying that one man can be a crucial ingredient in a team but one man can’t make a team.
Well the more I watch Michael Murphy the less that statement seems to hold any water. Last Sunday he gave another great display in the colours of Glenswilly and what’s more it is what we have come to expect of him.
To be fair Glenswilly are no one-man outfit. They have a lot of extremely good players in their ranks and what is hard to understand is how they are in Division Two.
There goes the argument that many of us made in the past that you had to be a Division One side if you wanted to be championship contenders. Their second half performance against Killybegs last Sunday was as good as it gets; they kicked some great points, finished off two very well worked goals and gave a display of how to kill off a team when you get the chance.
From the outset they were always going to be favourites with the likes of Michael Murphy, Neil Gallagher, Gary McFadden, Ciaran Bonner and Colin Kelly in their side, all of whom have played for their county. They also have the likes of Caolan Kelly, James Pat McDaid, Ruairi Crawford and Keelan McFadden who all stood out last Sunday and would get on any club side in the county.
Like all finals I thought players on both sides looked a bit nervous ; after all it’s the biggest day for any club player; the chance to win your own county championship is a huge honour and both sets of players have sacrificed a lot over the last ten months to be there.
Glenswilly started well using both Murphy and Colin Kelly inside; they pulled their entire half forward line out to give the two lads a lot of space and to be fair to both Dan O’Donnell and Jason Noctor, they handled them well but such is the power of Murphy that if he gets near the ball it’s hard to get it off him and more often than not he always draws the foul. I make this point only to say that I don’t think the referee on Sunday had a bad game. However in the first half Glenswilly scored a goal and seven points, the goal and six points came from dead balls. While I would not dispute the penalty, I would have to say when it came to the 50-50 Glenswillly came out better. Killybegs to their credit made a game of it in the first half with well taken goals by Hugh McFadden and Brendan Faherty. Enda Murphy put in a huge first half trying to curtail Neil Gallagher who I thought was simply outstanding on the day. Young Eoghan Ban Gallagher and Christopher Murrin ran through the Glenswilly rearguard time after time but could do nothing about the onslaught in the second half. The second half was only on for a couple of minutes when Glenswilly delivered the killer blows. Neil Gallagher’s goal and two quick points sealed Killybegs’ fate; they could not answer the powerful running from everywhere of a Glenswilly team who had got the smell of victory and unlike a couple of years ago where they nearly let St. Michael’s back into the game ,they never took their foot off the peddle and ran out easy winners in the end.
Glenswilly will know from past Donegal teams that you get very few chances where you can give the Ulster club championship a good rattle. This is their year; their marquee players are all fit and playing well; none of the other sides they meet will have mid fielders that can cope with the likes of Ciaran Bonner and Neil Gallagher and will certainly not have a full-back who will contain Michael Murphy.
It’s important for a Donegal side to go well in this competition as it can only raise the standard of club football in the county. At the minute and with no disrespect to either Killybegs or Glenswilly, who both deserved their place in the county final, the standard of football being played is not near good enough for the talent that is available. Players are being suffocated with tactics, defensive blankets and covering space.
There are very few players who couldn’t run a marathon but can’t kick the ball 40 yards to a team mate; they can do press ups and sit ups for fun but ask them to kick the ball over the bar from 30 or 40 meters they are struggling. We are replacing skilful players with robots and players like Michael Murphy and Christopher Murrin, who are naturally talented footballers, will just be like good politicians, scarce.
For Killybegs, they will have to brush themselves down, this was a heavy defeat and a hard one to take but they are a good bunch of lads who put their heads down a worked their socks off when things were not going that well in the league and they have nothing to be ashamed off; they will come back stronger and will learn from the experience of last Sunday.
While I have never been a big admirer of the International Rules series it was great to see the three Donegal lads play for their country and the fact that Michael Murphy captained the side said a lot about how the attitude towards Donegal players has changed. It’s not that long ago we were the butt of many of their jokes.
Of course Jim McGuinness and his management team of the last few years deserve great credit for that but it’s the same players who were the butt of those jokes who were the ones to make the change.
By the way I still don’t like the game and believe it’s only a junket at the end of the year for the chosen few.