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Murphy hailed after inspiring Donegal fightback

Donegal 1-17 Meath 1-15

Donegal 1-17 Meath 1-15
Donegal 1-17 Meath 1-15

By Chris McNulty

Michael Murphy delivered one of his best ever performances to inspire Donegal to the Division Two title.

With a vintage display he dragged Donegal from eight points down to overcome Meath at Croke Park.

The Glenswilly man hit seven points and laid on the game's key score - Jamie Brennan's 57th minute goal - as Donegal triumphed.

"He is a real leader," Donegal manager Declan Bonner said. "He just brings so much to the group with the experience and quality. His influence is so important."

Donegal staged a remarkable turnaround after Meath blitzed 1-6 inside the opening 12 minutes.

Thomas O'Reilly tucked home a goal as Mickey Newman and company wrecked havoc.

Donegal had to send for Neil McGee to plug the leaks on a record-breaking 174th Donegal appearance.

Donegal were five behind (1-10 to 0-8) at the break, but hit back in style in the second half.

Bonner said: "The second half performance was excellent.

"The panic button wasn't pressed at any stage and it was a controlled performance by us during the second half.

"Being eight points down here, a lot of young lads could fold very easily. But we stuck in and dug out a few scores in the second half."

Meath finished with 14 men as Shane Gallagher was sent off for a second bookable offence, his foul on Brennan allowing Murphy to stroke over his seventh point of the evening.

Donegal supporters will have been heartened by the sight of Patrick McBrearty taking an active part in the warm-up, while 18-year-old Oisin Gallen lit up Croke Park, scoring four points on his first outing at headquarters.

Bonner said: "Oisin is playing with huge confidence. His feet are firmly on the ground and he's working hard for the team, playing superb football.

"Once we sorted things out, we bossed the game. Some of our score taking was top class.

We are far from the finished article and we have work to do, but we're moving in the right direction."

Donegal: S Patton; S McMenamin, B McCole, P McGrath; D Ó Baoill, L McLoone, E Gallagher; H McFadden, J McGee (0-2); R McHugh, N O'Donnell (0-2), C McGonagle; O Gallen (0-4), M Murphy (0-7, 6f, 1m), J Brennan (1-2). Subs: N McGee for McCole (14), E Doherty for McLoone (half-time), M Langan for McGonagle (44), E McHugh for Ó Baoill (54), F McGlynn for R.McHugh (70).

Meath: A Colgan; S Lavin, C McGill, S Gallagher; J McEntee, D Keogan, R Ryan; B Menton (0-1), S McEntee (0-1); C O'Sullivan, (0-2, 1f) B Brennan (0-1), B McMahon (0-2); B Dardis (0-1 '45), M Newman (0-5, 2f, 1m), T O'Reilly (1-1). Subs: G Reilly (0-1) for McMahon (35), D Campion for Brennan (43), J Conlon for O'Reilly (65), G McCoy for S McEntee (67).

Referee: D O'Mahony (Tipperary).

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