Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Earley chooses shocked Murphy to lead Ireland

The chosen one: Paul Earley and Michael Murphy at the International Rules Series launch yesterday

For the second time in five years, Ulster will provide the captain for the International Rules series.

Donegal full-forward Michael Murphy will lead the Irish side into battle in the Tests against Australia at Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan on October 19 and Croke Park on October 26.

And there could be a sooner than expected return to top-flight action for Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan now that he has been invited to attend the training sessions.

The door has been left open for Morgan because of the non-availability of Dublin's All Ireland winning skipper Stephen Cluxton who is understood to be concentrating on club commitments.

Morgan played against Donegal in the Ulster Championship quarter-final but subsequently sustained a cruciate injury that had initially been expected to rule him out for this year.

He joins Meath's Paddy O'Rourke to form manager Paul Earley's current Rules goalkeeping resources and could yet make his debut in the series.

For Murphy, the captaincy is a major honour given that he is still only 23 and has already led the Donegal team to All-Ireland glory last year.

Manager Earley clearly feels that Murphy is the perfect choice to fulfil what he views as a very important role against an indigenous Australian side.

"Michael has shown tremendous leadership skills with Donegal and sets a great example. He shows great commitment to the Rules series and will make an ideal captain," said Earley.

Murphy has labelled his choice as skipper "a fantastic honour" following his involvement in the two most recent series against the Aussies.

"We won one of those series and lost the other. There is a massive difference in those experiences, I can tell you. Now it's a fantastic honour for me to lead Ireland," said Murphy.

"I was shocked when I was told by the manager that he had chosen me. After Donegal's All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Mayo, my involvement with the Rules squad has helped me to get over that disappointment.

"I have got back on the horse and really enjoyed the training sessions I have attended to date."

Murphy will summon what he refers to as "a collective effort" from his squad to ensure a series triumph.

"It will take a collective effort to get us over the line. We will have quality players from all over the country in the team who will bring their different skills into play," added Murphy.

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