Sport Gaelic Football

Monday 22 September 2014

Cats' hunger can inspire title defence – Murphy

Published 14/12/2012 | 05:00

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Dobnegal footballer Michael Murphy

ANY fears that Donegal's footballers will let success go to their heads and leave themselves open to complacency next year have been firmly erased by their captain Michael Murphy.

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Murphy revealed that Jim McGuinness' men have a new goal for 2013 – to become the Kilkenny of Gaelic football.

"We've achieved something only quite small these last few years and we'll be judged on how we perform in the next few years," Murphy insisted, modestly describing this year's historic All-Ireland victory as "adequate".

"It's premature to use the word 'greatness' about us; it's only a couple of years ago we were getting beat by Armagh in the qualifiers so it's important for us to keep our feet on the ground big time," Murphy stressed.

"We've managed to win two Ulsters and one All-Ireland, but you only have to look at our opponents across the border," he added. "Tyrone have won three All-Irelands and numerous Ulsters and it's all about trying to reignite that hunger now."

According to Murphy, Kilkenny's hurlers will be the barometer that the Tir Chonaill men will use to try to help them sustain the appetite that will be necessary if they're to retain their Ulster and All-Ireland titles.

"Kilkenny have had an absolutely phenomenal level of hunger in recent years," he said. "They're the kind of team that we've got to look to emulate."

Murphy insists Donegal will not be complacent because: "if anything, seeing the joy in people's faces reignited the hunger again."

And he said the key to Donegal's 2013 will not be a lengthy unbeaten run but consistency.

"It's not about winning games for us, it's always about nailing performances," he said. "Our 2011 performances weren't good enough to win it and 2012 was adequate enough to win something, but now we have to identify things that are struggling in our performances.

Scratch

"We have to be looking at the things in our game that aren't working and there's a good few of them that still aren't up to scratch."

A week's holiday to Dubai after Christmas will be Donegal's reward for the county's first All-Ireland title in 20 years, but they will be home in time for their McKenna Cup opener against Monaghan, in Ballybofey, on January 13.

Murphy, now a final-year student in DCU, actually feels that the All-Ireland championship should be squeezed into a tighter time frame in order to give a fairer deal to club players.

The irregularity of club fixtures, especially during the summer, was a recurring criticism in the GAA's major football review this week and the Glenswilly ace agrees that his club team-mates don't get a fair deal.

"One gripe club players have is the fixtures, not knowing from week to week, or even two weeks ahead, whether they were going to have a game or not. They can have a holiday booked and next thing a championship game is brought forward to that time. The fixture calendar is the one thing, especially at club level, that could be improved," Murphy said.

"Maybe you could bring forward the (All-Ireland) semi-final dates and final date by a month to get it all wrapped up and then give a chance to club players then who'd know when their championship is definitely running in September and October."

But otherwise Murphy believes the game of Gaelic football is in a healthy state and is a bit dubious about the latest tinkering with the rules.

"I personally don't see anything particularly wrong with the game at the moment," he said. "Debate is good, I've no problem with that, but you'd fear that they'd be changing the game and bringing in new rules every single year and where does that stop?

"They brought in this yellow card rule a few years ago and they also trialled the mark before and you have to ask why are they going back to them again?"

Irish Independent

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