GAA Football

Michael Murphy dismisses criticism as Donegal set up winner-takes-all clash with Tyrone

Michael Murphy was unstoppable in Donegal's Super 8s win over Roscommon

MICHAEL Murphy has dismissed criticism of his midfield performances and says he wants to play for Donegal wherever he’s most effective.

The Glenswilly man was pushed into full-forward for most of last Saturday’s All-Ireland Super 8s win over Roscommon where he bagged 0-9, including five points from play, and was by far the best player on the field.

One of the big debates surrounding Donegal is whether Murphy is better utilised at midfield or full-forward.

On last week’s Sunday Game, former Kerry legend Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper insisted Murphy must play full-forward if Donegal are to realise their potential, and, quite patently, wasn’t a fan of his midfield play.

“Michael Murphy needs to bust a gut to get up there and I’m just not seeing that energy,” said Cooper.

“He’s a full-forward, he’s one of the most talented full-forwards in the country and I’m not having that nobody else can play midfield, give a hand pass right and left. When I’m looking down at him in Croke Park, he turns his back [to run back]. Not good enough.”

Fellow pundit Sean Cavanagh, however, did offer a defence of Murphy being deployed at centre-field citing the absence of an experienced head since Neil Gallagher retired from the inter-county game.

Afterwards, Murphy acknowledged that criticism is part and parcel of playing at the highest level but insisted the needs of the team are the primary concern for Donegal.

“That’s football,” he said.

“There’s the old thing that you’re only as good as your last game. Individually and collectively we did fail to push on [against Dublin the previous week].

“With the spotlight that’s on now, you’re always open [to criticism].

“You put yourself up there. Some days it goes for you, some days it doesn’t. You just take the good with the bad.”

If Murphy prefers playing at full-forward he wasn’t giving anything away following last weekend’s seven-point win over Roscommon.

“I just want to be effective for Donegal. We all do. The game has got so fast and hectic that people pop up in different scenarios and different positions.

“Wherever I can be most effective is where I want to play, whether that’s inside, outside, or at corner-back, I really don’t care. It’s just important to be effective and to bring something to the team.”

With Patrick McBrearty ruled out through injury, there is undoubtedly a great temptation for manager Declan Bonner to push Murphy inside.

On Saturday, Odhrán MacNaillais played closer to goal but still managed to find space to hit four points from play while Jamie Brennan chipped in with a score.

“We felt during the week when we were planning for the [Roscommon] game that there would be an opportunity to do that.

“It panned out that way that myself Odhrán and Jamie were able to be up there and we had Ryan [McHugh] there too.”

“There is onus on us all,” Murphy added. “Patrick was flying. We’re all absolutely gutted for him. He was playing so well. It’s nigh on impossible to replace that. It just takes a collective push to cover the void. That’s what we’re all doing all over the park.”

There was an overwhelming sense from Murphy that they left the Dublin game behind them but they've recovered well to set up a winner-takes-all clash with Tyrone on Sunday week to see who advances to the All-Ireland semi-finals.

“We had an opportunity last week that we failed to take. We were very disappointed. We tried to put a performance on the board against Roscommon and we did that.

“It was patchy enough. We wanted to take the game to Roscommon. As the first half went on, we found pockets and bits of space. In the second half, there were chances that we need to punish as the weeks go on.

"But we’ll now get ready for a huge game against Tyrone.”

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