GAA Football

Colm O'Rourke needs to go to Specsavers after Michael Murphy comments says Donegal boss Declan Bonner

Michael Murphy has been inspirational in Donegal's two Ulster Championship wins thus far against Fermanagh and Tyrone. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Neil Loughran

DONEGAL boss Declan Bonner believes Colm O’Rourke “might need to go to Specsavers” following the RTE pundit’s recent observations about Tir Chonaill captain Michael Murphy.

During a debate with Joe Brolly, the former Meath star dismissed the Dungiven man’s claim that Murphy was the best player of the last decade, before suggesting he hadn’t always stepped up when it mattered most.

The Glenswilly ace was superb in the victories over Fermanagh and the Red Hands that brought Donegal to an eighth Ulster final in nine years.

And Bonner wore a wry smile when O’Rourke’s comments were put to him ahead of Sunday’s showdown with Cavan, with Murphy bidding to lift the Anglo-Celt Cup for the fifth time.

“I think Colm might need to go to Specsavers because any big game I've seen, he does not go hiding, that's for sure,” said the 1992 All-Ireland winner.

“He has been brilliant, he is a leader on and off the pitch and he goes looking for work anywhere on that pitch when he has to.

“People say he should play inside or whatever, but Michael was outstanding again against Tyrone. He was winning ball in midfield when we needed ball and fielding kick-outs and kicked vital scores on the day.

“He is one of the top players in the country for this last decade.”

Yet, despite their convincing defeat of Tyrone in a game many considered to be the de facto Ulster final, Bonner wasn’t happy with a “sloppy” showing in the second half.

“It was a controlled performance against Fermanagh with a lot of patience shown,” he said.

“That put Tyrone on our radar and you could sense during the week in the build-up that these guys were ready. The first half was good, in the second half maybe we got a bit sloppy.

“We knew how they were setting up, they had played like that at the end of the League. Their two performances in the Championship, Derry and Antrim, they probably didn't get really tested.

“But we had our game-plan and we worked off that and the lads carried it through. It was far from the complete performance, as people were saying after. There’s plenty of room for us to improve.”

For the second year in-a-row they go into the provincial decider as heavy favourites, and Bonner insists the experience within the Tir Chonaill group won’t allow complacency to creep in when they go toe-to-toe with Mickey Graham’s Breffnimen on Sunday.

“It doesn’t really get to the players.

“We were favourites going in against Fermanagh too, Tyrone were hot favourites against us and we knew we were well capable of winning that game.

“Cavan’s another different challenge, Mickey’s done a great job and he’s had a brilliant year, so we’re not taking anything for granted.

“Within our group the experienced players are vital and the quality they bring to the team meetings when they're chatting to these boys - Michael, Patrick [McBrearty], Frank [McGlynn], Leo [McLoone], Paddy [McGrath], Neil [McGee], guys who have been about the block, played in a good number of Ulster finals and that hunger and desire is still there.

“We reduced the squad down to 29 players, that’s exactly what’s in the squad - it’s a very small squad and we deliberately did that to keep it tight and I have no doubt any one of those players could go in and do a job at any time.”

Donegal boss Declan Bonner and his Cavan counterpart, Mickey Graham, chat at last week's Ulster final launch in Fermanagh. Picture by John Merry

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