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Ulster Championship final: Michael Murphy braced to lead Donegal into yet another ‘major battle’ against Derry

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Michael Murphy. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Michael Murphy. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Michael Murphy. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ten years have elapsed since Donegal captain Michael Murphy took delivery of the coveted Sam Maguire Cup for only the second time in the county’s history.

That Murphy still wears the captain’s armband with the north west county reflects considerable credit on his skill, commitment and loyalty.

Now in his early 30s and still parading the skills which have long since made him a household name, Murphy’s hunger to see his team collect the Ulster title at the expense of Derry tomorrow could be said to be overpowering.

It is doubtful if many players have given such commitment to their counties in the modern era when defections from county squads are commonplace.

Yet Murphy remains on red alert as he prepares to lead his side into battle against a Derry side for which he has “the highest respect”.

In overcoming Armagh at the quarter-final stage of the Ulster Championship, Donegal were relatively untroubled but it was a rather different story in the semi-final against Cavan when they were forced to absorb torrid first-half pressure before eventually managing to slip into something approaching their normal rhythm as the match drew to a conclusion.

Indeed, that scare against the Breffni County convinced Murphy that winning the Ulster title would be “a big battle”.

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And with fired-up Derry fortified by a ravenous hunger, he accepts that dangers will lurk round every corner in tomorrow’s Ulster final.

“Look, we have had some major battles with Cavan down through the years and while we were happy to get through our most recent assignment, we know that Derry will be waiting for us in the final ready to give us another major battle,” stressed Murphy.

“We have been meeting Derry on a regular basis in the Ulster Championship over recent years and you only have to go back to last year to see just how close the match was.

“We were very fortunate to get over the line through a late point from Patrick McBrearty and we know it will just be as tough this time”

Murphy’s versatility, free-taking and distribution are still the hallmarks of a player who is among the greatest ever to have graced the sport but you won’t find him basking in reflected glory.

“Listen, it’s all about winning in this final now. This will be another epic contest no matter what way you look at it,” insisted Murphy.


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