Gallagher: Murphy as Donegal manager would be a 'good fit' one day

Former Donegal manager Rory Gallagher (right) has backed Michael Murphy to one day occupy the managerial hotseat in the county
Gerry McLaughin

Former Donegal boss Rory Gallagher says Michael Murphy one day becoming manager of the Donegal would be 'the right fit'.

The Glenswilly man brought the curtain down on his playing career with the Tir Chonaill men this week and Gallagher, who was first a coach and then manager of Murphy at county level, believes that he will eventually find himself patrolling the sideline for Donegal.

“I think that his love for Donegal, if he feels he can contribute as a coach and manager I could not see it not happening and I could not see it not being the right fit because again every decision he would make, would be about putting Donegal first," said the current Derry manager.

“It would be again about setting an example.

As well as that there was a remarkable affection for him.

“He comes across as a very steely resilient tough character, but he has a lovely softer side and a lovely manner with younger people and all of us enjoyed lots of social occasions as well and they were truly memorable.

“The fun and the craic and the slagging were memorable too and he was very much a part of that too.

“They were very privileged moments too and they were moments that I certainly enjoyed too."

He added: "Michael made some great memories for me, and he made me sad a few times since when I was Fermanagh manager.

“But he is truly amazing sports person, and it is impossible to quantify the effect he had on his team mates, and all of us in such an unassuming way."

Gallagher was Jim McGuinness's right hand man when Murphy lifted the Sam Maguire in 2012 before taking the reins himself following the county's All-Ireland final defeat to Kerry in 2014. He is better placed than most to reveal what it was like to share a dressing room with the finest player the county have ever produced

“Probably only those of us fortunate enough to be sharing a dressing room with him and a training pitch with him would know the type of leader and the type of person he was, " Gallagher said.

“He was absolutely the best team-mate you could ever wish for.

“Clearly a brilliant player, but the way he conducted himself to the highest standards, how he helped all of us and worked selflessly for the team. It was truly a privilege to be in that environment with him.

“People tend to forget that he had some pretty dark days with Donegal.

“He is just a truly remarkable individual.

“He has lost five Ulster finals, an All-Ireland final, an All-Ireland U-21 final and a county final and it is just his rea strength of character and resilience to come back and win an All-Ireland title, five Ulster titles, represent his country twice in the Compromise Rules and win three county titles with Glenswilly and a Sigerson Cup and that speaks for itself."

Murphy's affection for his county was no more evident than when he climbed the Hogan Stand steps in September 2012 - 20 years after Anthony Molloy - to become only the second Donegal captain to lift the Sam Maguire.

So how vital was he to that All-Ireland title victory in 2012?

“He was huge as even before that Donegal had hardly won a championship match in years," Gallagher said.

“And then they went ahead and won 15 championship games out of 16.

“Michael along with many others was a huge part of it and it was his ability to play for the team, to do what was needed for the team at one time.

“There was a lot of debate about where he could and should have played but Michael just did what was asked of him on any given day and not only that he did it better than anybody else could have.

“But that was not just in those days, but he also did it in a training environment,

“In the dressing room he only spoke when he had something to say.

“He would choose his words carefully, but it was his passion for his county and his love and pride he had in representing Donegal was in every fibre of his being.

“Michael also represented his team-mates, his club and it shone through in his warrior like spirit and there are very few like him.

“There have been lots of brilliant players and there always will be but there are very few players that would have had the same influence on the teams for whom he played."