Get the Rosary Beads out for Murphy
It always happens when you don’t want it to happen. Michael Murphy helped from the pitch in Glenswilly during league game. It sends shivers down the spine of every Donegal supporter.
At this stage we cannot contemplate going into battle without our captain. Whether the knock picked up by Murphy in Sunday’s game against Gaoth Dobhair is serious or not, we will probably have to wait and see. Rory Gallagher was quick out of the blocks to play down the injury, as any good manager would.
Two weeks from Sunday, we have a very important date with Tyrone in Clones. The bookies are making Tyrone favourites after their double scores win over a very poor Derry side on Sunday last. Donegal will be happy to have the underdogs’ tag.
Will Mattie Donnelly escape censure for his ‘tangle’ with Chrissy McKaigue? Remember he got a black card in the first half when the sides met in the Ulster final last year. He was one of two Tyrone players black carded and one friend of mine firmly believes that those cards changed the game in Tyrone’s favour.
Apart from the Murphy ‘scare’, there are likely to be other little blips on either side of the divide before Sunday, 18th. Championship wouldn’t be championship without some drama.
I spent 90 minutes in the company of Brian McEniff on Monday afternoon and if ever you want to relive championship drama, then he is your man. He has the memory of an elephant, but is still looking forward to every Donegal game with the same enthusiasm he had as a teenager.
Tyrone will be a real test for Donegal’s younger brigade, and they should be ready for that test. Going on Sunday last, Tyrone haven’t changed much from last year, relying on the same players to get them over the line. Donegal’s pace should be a renewed factor from last year.
Patrick McBrearty will probably start in Clones and he should be hungry for action. Indeed, he was withdrawn for the last few minutes last year when he looked the most likely to score for Donegal.
It will be a much-changed Donegal team this time around, but hopefully the leader, Murphy, will be there.
Keep saying those prayers!!
A special talent
One of the special talents in Irish sport at the moment is a 16-year-old swimmer called Mona McSharry. Although she resides in Grange, Co. Sligo, Donegal can lay huge claims to someone who is destined for bigger things in the world of swimming.
Just over a month ago, she dominated the Irish senior swimming championships at her favourite discipline, the breaststroke, winning the 50m, 100m and 200m titles with some ease - all this while still being a junior.
The Donegal connection is through her swimming club and school. Mona just finished up last week at the end of her Transition Year at Coláiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon, but she still continues her early morning training at the Ballyshannon Leisure Centre under the guidance of the local Marlins Swim Club.
Her summer will be hectic with the European Junior Championships in Israel in June; the World Senior Championships in Budapest in July and her big target, the World Junior Championships in Indianapolis, USA in August. She has already medalled at the European Juniors and as this is her last year, she wants to test herself against the best in the world at her own age group.
No doubt Tokyo in 2020 is also on the horizon.
Tomorrow (Friday) another of our finest sportspeople, Seamie Coleman, will be made a Freeman of Donegal with a ceremony at the Donegal Co. Council offices in Lifford.
He is a relatively young man and would probably have rather been with the Irish team in the US this week for their games with Mexico and Uruguay, but he is recovering from an horrific leg break while on Irish duty against Wales.
Coleman is pure Donegal and he was quoted recently about his love of Killybegs: "I know everyone loves where they're from, but I really do love Killybegs. I'm just Seamus who they've known playing Gaelic and kicking a football against the wall on St Cummin’s Hill, the housing estate I grew up in.
"This is peace and quiet and family and friends, walks along Fintra Beach and kids on the estate knocking on the door asking me to come out and play football and chatting about the Premier League. But no one treats me like a Premier League footballer."
We’re lucky to have role models like him and hopefully he is back on the playing field soon.