GAA Football

Michael Murphy won't feature in Ulster University Ryan Cup campaign

Donegal captain Michael Murphy won't feature for Ulster University until after Christmas. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Neil Loughran

Higher Education Ryan Cup quarter-final: Ulster University v Maynooth University (today, 3pm, Jordanstown)

MICHAEL Murphy will not make his debut in Ulster University colours at Jordanstown this afternoon - but Martin McHugh knows the Donegal colossus will be a key man by the time the Sigerson Cup comes around next February.

The Kilcar contingent of Patrick McBrearty and cousins Eoin and Ryan McHugh already provide a strong Tir Chonaill spine to UU’s star-studded team, and adding county captain Murphy into a mix is a huge boost.

Murphy has experience of playing on a Sigerson Cup-winning team with Dublin City University in 2012, and boss McHugh hopes he can have a big influence when he does finally line out in the sky blue jersey.

However, after his exertions with Donegal and leading club Glenswilly to the county title last month, Murphy won’t feature again until 2017.

Ulster University boss McHugh said: “He’s taking a well-earned break.

“It’s understandable – he’s played a lot of football this year already, for the county and the club. I’ve always said you need a break away from it all. After Christmas, you’ll need Michael Murphy.

“With his leadership qualities and his football ability, he’s going to be a big, big help to us. There’s great spirit in the camp with the lads who are playing there all fighting for their places.

“But we want to look at players during the league too – we know what the likes of Michael Murphy can do, so we need to look at other players.”

And McHugh will certainly have that opportunity against Maynooth University today as the list of those injured or unavailable to the 1992 All-Ireland winner grows by the day.

Like Murphy, Monaghan pair Ryan McAnespie and Kieran Hughes and Tyrone’s Ronan McNamee are taking a break from football until Christmas, while McBrearty is currently on holiday and will miss today’s game.

“McBrearty is a big loss,” said McHugh, whose management team consists of Benny Hurl, Barry Dillon, Paul Rouse and Tommy Joe Farrell.

“In the last few weeks he played three games - two for Jordanstown and one for Kilcar - and he scored 2-28. He’s playing the best football I’ve ever seen him play, so he’s a loss from a scoring point of view.”

A hamstring injury sidelines Eoin McHugh, while Ryan McHugh (calf), Armagh’s Ethan Rafferty and the Trillick duo of Ruairi Kelly and Rory Brennan are all doubts.

Due to their involvement with Killyclogher, who play Slaughtneil in the Ulster Club SFC semi-final on Sunday, goalkeeper Sean Fox and playmaker Mark Bradley are also unavailable.

Qualifying top of their Ryan Cup group ensured UU would be seeded for February’s latest Sigerson assault, and McHugh admits that was the main objective at the start of the competition.

“Anything else now would be classed as a bonus going forward,” he added.

“Any players with any wee knocks or who need a rest, you’ll deal with that because we’ve achieved what we wanted to achieve. We’d like to get a wee bit further in the competition if we could but the minute you qualify, you’re preparing for Sigerson.

“Hopefully, from an Ulster point of view, either St Mary’s, Queen’s or ourselves get a good run in the Sigerson. It’s time Ulster football started to get back to the top and it would be great for one of the three teams to win the Sigerson.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

GAA Football