Turnaround brings triumph for Donegal star Michael Murphy
Michael Murphy could never have envisaged that a potential quadruple triumph was in the offing as he cut a desolate figure in the aftermath of Donegal's All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Mayo.
If Murphy's sporting world experienced a seismic earthquake when Monaghan brushed aside last year's Sam Maguire Cup winners in the Ulster final, then it caved in completely following that humiliation at the hands of James Horan's side.
Donegal skipper Murphy freely admits that his county's championship involvement – he hesitates to use the word campaign – proved the ultimate setback.
Yet within the past month his personal graph has taken a sudden, indeed truly remarkable, upward swing.
He has captained Ireland to International Rules series glory, masterminded Glenswilly's second Donegal county championship title in three years and has been named as Ulster GAA Writers Association monthly merit award winner for October.
And a season which Murphy initially thought had terminated when he exited Croke Park back in August could now last into December should Glenswilly get the better of Fermanagh title-holders Roslea in the Ulster club championship semi-final on Sunday week.
"Obviously Donegal never really got going this year and that has been a major disappointment, but I'm pleased and proud to have attained a level of success recently that I honestly never thought was possible," said the man who did much to steer his county to their second All-Ireland title last year.
His contribution to Ireland's success in the Rules series, both as skipper and pivotal forward, was immense and 24 hours after the first Test win in Cavan he lined out for Glenswilly in the Donegal decider, scoring 1-5 in their handsome victory over Killybegs.
Since then, Glenswilly have beaten St Gall's in the Ulster club quarter-finals and as Murphy ponders the clash with Roslea, he admits that his writers' award coup will provide him with a further incentive to finish 2013 on a high.
"It's tremendous to get this honour. I have been very fortunate lately and hopefully my luck will continue," he said.
"To win a second Donegal title in three years is a massive bonus for our club and now we are strongly focused on getting our hands on the Ulster crown."
In winning the writers' honour, Murphy overcame the challenge of Monaghan ace Conor McManus, who was man-of-the-match in the second Test against Australia and Ballinagh forward Niall McDermott, who was outstanding in his team's first-ever Cavan title triumph.
Also in the frame for recognition was Loughiel hurler Eddie McCluskey who scored 2-2 in the Ulster final against Ballygalget.
Murphy was presented with an engraved Belleek Living Vase.