Tyrone will test us to the absolute limit, insists Murphy
Donegal skipper Michael Murphy is not in the least surprised that the majority of matches in the Ulster Senior Football Championship to date have gone right down to the wire.
Ahead of his team's semi-final against Tyrone tomorrow at Kingspan Breffni, Cavan (5pm), Murphy sounds a warning to his side to take on board just how tight things have been in the competition to date.
"When you look at Armagh's matches against Down and Cavan in particular, and then you take on board the Tyrone v Derry game and our own match against Fermanagh, it can be seen that for the most part the outcomes were in doubt right up until the closing minutes," acknowledges Murphy.
"When you look at our game against Fermanagh, we maybe only had a two or three point lead up until the closing stages when we pulled away a little bit, but you always felt that had Fermanagh scored a goal that might have changed the whole picture."
It's the tense, tough nature of the Championship that has brought the crowds back out in huge numbers.
Upwards on 17,000 fans were at St Tiernach's Park, Clones to see Armagh and Cavan play out a draw last Sunday, and with Monaghan and Fermanagh sharing their replay bill at the same venue this weekend in an All-Ireland qualifier, the attendance figure is expected to top the 20,000 mark.
Murphy is conscious that while many Donegal fans are upset at having to make the long journey to Cavan tomorrow - it is estimated that many face a round trip of upwards on 250 miles - the magnetic lure of the competition will again come to the fore.
"There is no doubt that the Ulster Championship has its own appeal and one of the reasons for this is that there is very little separating the majority of the sides," stresses Murphy.
"From our own perspective, we are obviously hoping to land back-to-back titles, but you can take it from me that we are not looking beyond Tyrone. They will test us to the absolute limit.
"It's great to see Patrick McBrearty back in our side fully-fit again after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury and he certainly showed in our win over Fermanagh just how valuable he is."
The condensed nature of the Ulster Championship has undoubtedly found favour on all sides with administrators, players and fans fully immersed in a competition that has already scaled a new peak in terms of skill, passion and entertainment value.
"You are only over one game before you are getting ready to go into action a couple of weeks later," points out Murphy.