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Donegal boss pays tribute to his mighty captain marvel Murphy


Leading man: captain Michael Murphy lifts the Anglo-Celt Cup
Leading man: captain Michael Murphy lifts the Anglo-Celt Cup
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Donegal manager Declan Bonner paid tribute to the towering impact of captain Michael Murphy on football within the county, after he once again lifted the Anglo-Celt Cup after victory over Cavan.

"You'd need to see the way Michael conducts himself both on and off the field," said Bonner.

"He's a real leader. He's an inspiration for everyone involved. He demands the highest standards - that's important for the whole group.

"We have a lot of young lads there. They look up to Michael, Paddy McGrath, Frank (McGlynn), Leo McLoone, Neil McGee - they are all role models for these young men."

Prior to this season Donegal had five Ulster titles throughout their history. They now have five this decade which represents a sea-change in how they are perceived in football, but still Bonner was keen to point out how some of his players are still learning on the job.

"I said it to the lads that there was lads appearing in their eighth final and others appearing in their first.

"Odhran McFadden-Ferry, that was his first taste of senior football today and we have real trust in those players. I've said it before that it is a small squad - only 29 players - and any one of those players could have come on and done a job.

Five times in 10 years is brilliant. We went long spells without one so you have to make the most of every opportunity when you get here."

He continued: "A lot of good work has been done and a lot of these guys have come through the underage ranks. You see the likes of Michael and Jamie Brennan and Michael Langan and Jason McGee, Niall O'Donnell: they are all lads who came through that system. That's the conveyor belt we need to keep working on."

Donegal were somewhat helped from the first whistle when Cavan manager Mickey Graham replaced his full-forward line, putting in Gerry Smith and Ciaran Brady, who are defenders, in order to stop a fast start.

It didn't work for them, however, as Donegal were pedal to the metal from the off.

"I watched them in the last couple of matches, between Monaghan and the two Armagh matches, and they were very, very impressive going forward," said Bonner.

"Mickey's done a really good job with them. That will be a learning curve for those guys. They'll make it difficult now for any team in the qualifiers. I'd expect to see them in the Super 8s."

Turning to his own players, he said, "The first half performance was top class. There was scores coming from all over the pitch. Some patches of excellent football. We dominated the kick-outs. The likes of Eoghan Ban coming from deep, the likes of Ryan McHugh, Hugh McFadden - a lot of these guys were getting on the scoreboard. It was very, very good.

"Second half we conceded two goals and got a bit sloppy at times. But that's for another day. We're going to enjoy this, this evening."

Cavan manager Mickey Graham wasn't utterly devastated, but admitted there was much to process after a chastening defeat when his side never were truly at the pitch of the game.

"We got turned over in the tackle, we kicked a few wides, gave away ball, dropped it short and it was all our doing and Donegal made it count at the other end," he said.

"That was one thing you can't do against Donegal as they have so many runners all over the field and they punished us for that.

"We are hugely disappointed and find ourselves in the qualifiers one game from the Super 8s and it's going to be a great test of our character but there is great character in those changing rooms, definitely a great mentality there.

"I have no doubt that this disappointment, we will learn from it and learn fairly quickly because we have two weeks now and it is going to be a tough game because they have come through a couple of games themselves so we have to dust ourselves off and get back on the horse."

Belfast Telegraph


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