GAA Football

Michael Murphy: I'll play anywhere for Donegal

Donegal's Michael Murphy leaps to the ball ahead of Galway's Paul Conroy and Thomas Flynn during the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship game on July 22 2017
Gerry McLaughlin

“I'll play anywhere”.

That's the succinct response of Donegal's talismanic team captain Michael Murphy as the debate about playing him at full-forward took fresh legs this week.

Donegal's greatest ever player must be rightly tired of answering the perennial question of his views on playing full forward for his county.

And as he grows a bit older (he is still only 28), that view has grown momentum

Adding to that momentum is Donegal's acquisition of Nathan Mullins, son of Dublin great Brian Mullins, who is seen as a Neil Gallagher-type ball winner in the middle of the field, thus taking some of the pressure off Murphy and allowing him the freedom to operate closet to the opposition's goal.

All-Ireland 1992 captain Anthony Molloy believes that if Murphy “was in Kerry he would be full-forward every day.”

“Michael Murphy is the best full-forward in the country.

“If he was in Kerry he would be on the edge of the square day in day out.”

Molloy added: “We need a plan B and we are over-elaborating on the short game.

“We depend too much on it and we are going to have to vary our game.

“Everybody with the exception of the opposition want to see Michael Murphy on the edge of the opposition's square.

“We are going to have to go down that road at some stage and I think we should in 2018 and persist with it.”

But what many still do not realize is that such is Michael Murphy's genuine gra for his county, is that he would play in goals if asked to.

When asked if he would like to play full forward he characteristically gently deflects the question

“I will try and get my place on the team first,'' he stated.

“Look it does not matter where I am played.

“I enjoy midfield as well as full forward and it is where you are involved and can influence the game is the big one where you put trust in the management to figure that one right.

“So I have enough of a challenge to get my body right and get back out on the pitch and get fitness levels up.

“If that means playing full forward, centre forward, midfield or centre half back I will be happy to play there.”

So which of these positions does he prefer?

“I honestly don't mind as every position is different,'' he replied.

‘You can play full forward with 15 men behind the ball and you might not get a touch of the ball and that is not too enjoyable.

“You can play midfield where there might be an opportunity to do a bit of damage inside so obviously you think that might be enjoyable.

“Honestly wherever you can try and influence the game a wee bit is where you want to play.”

Murphy will not be taking part in the Dr McKenna Cup under new boss Declan Bonner, but he pays a warm tribute to “another new boss” Karl Lacey and the departed Rory Gallagher.

“Karl Lacey has studied the game very deeply and all that sports science as to how the game worked,'' said Murphy.

“It's great to see him in that role already and the first three weeks have been very promising in that regard.

“The younger lads and the older lads have massive respect for Karl and not just for what he achieved.

“It's for the way he trained himself, the way he prepared his body and the way he performed on the football pitch was the epitome of the way the whole lot of us wanted to do it.

“And he is bringing that through now in his backroom role so he sets a standard and is a role model for that and we look forward to working with him and for him to push us on to where we need to get too.”

And the meeting with ex-boss Rory Gallagher in the McKenna Cup is bound to add a bit of spice.

And again, the courteous Murphy pays an equally sincere tribute to his ex-boss: “It was always going to happen.

“It will be gas and I just wish Rory all the best.

“He has done huge things with us as footballers and was very loyal to us as footballers and has been brilliant for the county as well.

‘He was part of a hell of a lot of success with us for a number of years.

“And Fermanagh will be delighted to get him and they are getting a good one in him.”

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